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Hector of St. Paul's Church, Boston. 




Entered aeoordiug to Act of Congress, in the year ISoo, by 


In the Clerk's OflSce of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 




Among whom i hate gone preaching the gospel 

FOR thirteen tears, 










Boston, Sept. 3, 1855. 















<' '' '' II. ... 107 

ruth's DECISION 123 























THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. . . 289 




In sending these sermons to the press, I feel that an act 
that seems so bold, and yet so voluntary, may require ex- 

For this I can only say, that the responsibility is as little 
my own, as can well be supposed ; and had the publication 
waited for my wishes, I should hardly have attempted this 
experiment of authorship. 

But when the suggestion came from one whose ripe Chris- 
tian scholarship I had been accustomed to respect; who was 
aiming, in his line, to advance a distinct sort of Christian 
literature; consecrating his press, as once his tongue, and 
his pen, to preaching the everlasting Gospel — I felt that I 
had hardly the liberty of refusing. 

And since he was willing to incur the whole risk of profit 
or loss, he will, no doubt, accept the accompanying responsi- 
bility of praise or blame. 

1* (v) 


In selecting the sermons, I have studied such diversity 
as I supposed might make them more generally useful ; and 
such as they are, I commend them prayerfully to that blessed 
Spirit, whose mission it is, to take of the things of God, 
and show them to men ; and who can preach no less eflfectu- 
ally through the eye, than through the ear, to reach the 
heart, and save the soul. 



Komans vii. 13. 
"That sin by the commandment might become exceeding 


The meaning of these words is, that the de- 
merit and evil of sin are most plainly revealed 
by the law of God. 

In general, however, men are apt to form their 
judgments on this subject by quite another 
standard. It is unquestionably true that society 
does not always decide upon moral questions as 
God himself does. Society sometimes calls evil 
good and good evil, considering rather the weU- 
being of the community than the mind of God. 
And, in a very artificial state of society, right 
and wrong are apt to be resolved into merely 
proper and improper. 

But if we would be saved by God, we must 
be saved in his own way. To act as he would 
have us do, we must first miderstand as he 



would have us understand, must see with his 
eyes, must judge of moral relations with his 
judgment, must place ourselves in his light, 
when, as the Prophet says, "we shall see light." 

The law of God is his image, the copy and 
expression of his character; for it is the decree 
of his will, which is but the acting out of his 
whole nature. Sin, being the transgression of 
the law, is best seen in its true nature by the 
light of the law, and by the law it is seen in all 
its various points of view to be exceedingly 

As sin is the transgression of the law, we may 
regard its nature, first, as an abstract thing, as a 
violation of law in general. Every thing which 
is essentially bad is the violation of some sort of 
law. And I do not know but the converse is 
equally true — that the violation of any law is 
essentially evil. The whole system of the uni- 
verse, above and below, is a system of order and 
consequently of law, because law is only the rule 
of order. 

Not only is the life and action of each sort of 
thing regulated by law, but the connection of 
different things is sustained by the same pervad- 
ing power of law. 

The adaptation of one thing to another, and of 
all to the universe in which they live, is still by 


virtue of the same great principle. So that law 
is only the theory of the universe, the plan of 
the world's perpetual movement, the harmony of 
creation, murmuring forth in the under-tones of 
nature's easiest movements, or pealing in the 
crash of her more terrible energies. The silent 
play of affinities or their convulsive rush, the 
minuter as well as the mightier, are all produced 
by law, sitting like a queen, whose word is power 
and whose throne is the world. 

When all the interlacing laws of the world 
are allowed to act unhindered, the harmony of 
things is complete, and nature's movements, and 
man's deeds, the thoughts of the mind, the affec- 
tions of the heart, the actings of life and busi- 
ness, are like one texture whose warp and woof 
are proportioned and strong, which is studded 
with graceful figures and colored with a due diver- 
sity. But any violation of law is a rent in the 
texture, a discord in the chorus, an insurrection 
in the grand army of God's forces. The theory 
of the universe is disturbed and distorted, and 
no man can say whether the very life of the 
world will not be shortened by it. 

Now this transgression of law is always pro- 
duced by one set of agencies interfering with 
another set, when the laws of one department 
shoot beyond their limits into another. If the 


moral goes over into the physical or the physical 
trenches upon the moral, if the feelings thwart 
the judgment, and the human propensities disre- 
gard the laws of nature or of conscience, then 
there is a transgression, there is evil done, and 
somebody or something will feel it. Nature, or 
the Liw of nature, is impatient at the contempt of 
her authority, and indicates her majesty by 
retribution. Let us look at some of these trans- 
gressions of law, and see how their evil is exhi- 
bited in their consequences. 

Let a man's nerves be overtaxed by excite- 
ment or labour, his whole conscious being w^ill 
have to pay the forfeit in suffering or in helpless- 
ness. Let the flow of his blood be unequal or 
interrupted, and his whole frame succumbs and 
his life goes out. Let his ambition incite him to 
too much effort, and he breaks down altogether. 
Let his propensities seize the reins of his life, 
and he burns out. Let intemperance get the 
mastery of reason, and reason, dethroned, will go 
out from him, and leave him a poor, staring idiot. 
These are common instances of violated law, in 
wdiich the human will goes contrary to nature, 
and nature takes her sure revenge. They are 
extreme cases, and the}^ show^ the more clearly 
the finished consequences of such transgression. 
In proportion as the olTence comes near to this, 


in the same proportion are its effects mischievous, 
and even in the slightest degree, therefore, the 
transgression is bad, bad in its consequences, and 
so we must suppose essentially bad. 

But let us take another analogous case more 
striking, and, if not an actual, yet a conceivable 

This universe is bound together by one great 
principle or law, which is not only the band that 
girdles the world, but the vital power that pene- 
trates its frame, and holds each atom to its neigh- 
bour atom. It is the great law of attraction, as 
we call it. 

It is conceivable, I say, that this law might be 
thwarted, or suspended, or overpowered by some 
counter influence. There is reason to suppose 
that, in some remarkable cases, this has been the 
fact. If such a thing should occur to-day on any 
large scale, 3^ou can see what an overwhelming 
mischief would befal the system. Each whirling 
orb would rush through the unlimited void with- 
out aim or order. Each in its separate projec- 
tion would follow its own separate career, until, 
in the absence of light and warmth, each world 
would starve alone in the empty unknown space, 
and all its living things would die. Nay, that 
world would itself no longer remain to furnish 
graves for its dead inhabitants. For the same 


law broken would dissolve the cohesion of the 
earth and air. The solid structure of each globe 
would itself fly asunder in atoms. Its elements 
would take their first impalpable form, in which 
no eye could see, and no grasp retain them, but 
His who first consolidated them into a universe. 
Dark, lifeless and unknown, the spreading space 
would be the world's big tomb, from which there 
could be no resurrection, and not a creature sur- 
vive to whisper the catastrophe. 

It is not impossible that some such thing may 
be. It would be so to-day, if the great natural 
law should be suspended for a while. 

Now I wish you to contemplate this mighty 
disaster, in order to realize the evil of breaking 
Divine laws. It is true that you and I cannot 
do this mischief on so large a scale, but the 
instance proves just as much as if we could. 
And now, if we have appreciated this analogy 
as we ought, let us turn to our direct subject. 

There is another law of God, as much above 
this law of nature as God's moral attributes are 
superior to his natural. That law was meant for 
men, thinking moral agents. It is brought as near 
to us as the law of nature itself It is more 
indispensable to our peace than that; and although 
all the united wills of men cannot supersede it, 
since no conspiracy of wickedness can dethrone 


the Almighty, yet any single creature can throw 
contempt upon it by resisting it, and so far as he 
does so, he does what he can, not to destroy the 
universe indeed, but to demorahze it, which is 
far worse. Far worse, I say, because the moral 
law was meant for eternity, the natural law for 
time. The one is for the body, the other for the 
soul. The latter is for earth, and men, and 
brutes; the former is for Heaven, and Angels, 
and God himself. 

Now, although the bad consequences of an 
action may prove that the action was wTong, yet 
our view of those consequences does not always 
measure the wi'ong done. An action that is 
essentially wicked is just as wicked without any 
evil consequences that we can perceive, as if we 
could trace out the whole line of mischief. Its 
tendencies are just as bad, as if they were carried 
to their direct result. E^emember, then, what 
the law is of which we speak, and you will see 
the exceeding sinfulness of sin. 

It is God's choicest institution, the transcript 
of his whole mind and heart. His moral govern- 
ment will be everlastingly conducted by the dic- 
tates of that law. Heaven and earth shaU pass 
away, and, with them, all other laws beside, but 
not a jot or tittle of this law of laws shall fliil. 

In this law God comes near to us, and declares 


his will. In every moral action, man likewise 
declares his will. If his will be adverse to God's, 
this is disobedience — sin. God says to man, 
''Thou sJiall,'' the sinner says in reply, " I tvill 
not;' or God again declares, " Thou shalt not;' the 
sinner replies again, "/ tvilV The opposition is 
direct. It is a simple conflict of wills. If man 
were the stronger he would enforce his own will, 
and this would be to dethrone the Lord. But it 
does not alter the wrong that he is the weaker 
of the two. It exposes the follf/ of his sin, but 
it does not detract from its wickedness. Its 
tendency is just the same as if it were successful. 
If he should succeed, he would carry devastation 
into heaven itself. ImbeciUty, folly and selfish- 
ness on the throne would turn the universe into 
an all-devouring pit of woe. But is the sin any 
less sinful because it only tries to do all this and 
cannot? It is deliberate sin just as much. It 
is selfish just as much. It is a struggle for 
power with God Almighty, in the very matter 
where his chiefest honour is concerned, and the 
w^elfiire of the universe most vitally involved. 

If such conduct be not the very perfection of 
moral propriety, it is plain it must be exceedingly 
sinful. As opposition to law, and that the high- 
est law, it must be, if not a matter of world-wide 
commendation, then a thing of damning infamy. 


We can understand, then, the force of the lan- 
guage of the text. Even when we look at sin 
as the transgression of law in its abstract sense, 
it is essentially and only wrong, exceedingly 

Now, again, let us observe more in detail, how 
the moral law shows the exceeding sinfulness of 

Since the law is the portrait of the Divine 
character, and every disobedience is a personal 
offence against God, we can see its sinfulness by 
the attributes which it provokes. 

First, every sin is a direct challenge of omnipo- 
tence. I am not going to attempt the descrip- 
tion of this attribute. Human language was not 
made for such an undertaking. The power of 
God is an idea which no finite conception ever 
compassed. We could only describe it by nega- 
tions. We should have to fix in our minds 
certain definite bounds as far as our minds can 
leap, and then say, "Greater than this." We 
should have to multiply that distance manifold, 
until the tired mind gasped for thought, and still 
we must say, "Vaster than this." 

Who, by searching, can find out God? What 
imagination, travelling to the outmost hmit of 
manifested poAver, can overleap the mighty chasm 
that still separates it from him in whose bosom 
is power's infinite source. 


We are in the habit of estimating omnipotence 
by its creations. We travel to the sun and then 
to other suns. We map out all the known 
systems and lay them before our eyes, that we 
may seem to take them in at a glance ; and when 
we have surveyed the wdiole star-peopled realm, 
we know not but there may be, for we feel there 
can be, just as deep an abyss filled wdth just 
such myriads of worlds; and then another, and 
another, until we can go no further from very 
f\iintness; and then we stop while infinitude 
pregnant with power still stretches out of sight. 
We have seen enough to know that He who made 
everything can do anything. This is only the 
shadow of his deeds, the hiding of his power. 
All this God made and upholds, and what is a 
more striking thought, he can destroy it all, and 
turn the limitless creation into a void solitude all 
black, and deep, and dead, with no fixed point 
but his own throne, and no living thing but him- 
self His very breath has that powder as when 
you blow out the light of a candle. The motion 
of his finger sends out a stream of omnipotence 
that can turn everything to nothing. This is the 
power that stands behind the law and upholds it. 

And where is the power that defies it? Turn 
your eyes downward — away, far away to that 
little speck of creation that moves round in its 


tiny orbit. Narrow your vision more and more 
closely. There upon that little telescopic body, 
you see a little microscopic thing — a creature of 
yesterday, to die to-morrow. His breath is in 
his nostrils. He is crushed before the moth. 
You see him carry his head high, and cast a 
scornful look up towards the great law. God has 
told him, "Thou shalt not;" he grows angry and 
says, "I ^Vill." God thunders again in his 
almightiness and says, "Thou shalt be destroyed;" 
the little creature is offended at the threat and 
will hear no more. 

The sinfulness of sin is seen again in the 
wisdom it contemns. 

The Divine wisdom is the power of knowing 
all that is possible as well as all that is actual. 
Before the mind of God all the causes of things 
are arranged like seeds for the nursery of the 
universe, and he knows what each will bring 
forth. He can tell all that has been in the 
history of eternity, and unfold everything that 
shall be or can be in the unopened future. 

He can equally well understand the relations 
of things. He knows the effect of every possi- 
ble combination of causes. He can foil every 
wrong design, can insure every right purpose, 
disappoint all machinations, bring good out of 
evil; and with matchless, amazing skill, can 


make the wrath of man to praise him. This is 
the wisdom of omniscience. 

To sin against the law is to despise it. And 
now, who is the sinner ? The same inferior crea- 
ture whom we saw just now, small in his under- 
standing as in his power; one who knows hut 
little of the past, nothing of the future, and 
scarcely more than the outside of himself; one 
whose wisdom is praised by men, if perchance 
he learns before he dies, that he knows nothing 
as he ought to know it; so that his rarest wisdom 
is his conscious ignorance. It is he, who, in 
spite of the infinitely wise law, will make his 
own laws; when omniscience points the path to 
glory and felicity, will choose another path; Avhen 
the infallible mind utters through the law, " This 
is the way, walk ye in it," replies by the 
language of his hfe, " I will not^ I desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways." 

We may learn, again, the inveteracy of sin 
through the holiness of the law, reflecting the 
character of the Lawgiver. There is no attribute 
of God, which he himself so much exalts as his 
holiness. It is not itself so much an attribute as 
it is the brightness which is thrown over all the 
rest. It is the complexion of his character rather 
than one of its features. It consists of that imma- 
culateness which makes the Deity seem to be aU 


light and purity ; the quality which makes it neces- 
sary for him, if I may speak so, to prefer right to 
wrong, good to evil, truth to falsehood, charity to 
selfishness. It is this which creates in his hosom 
his irreconcilable hatred to all sin, so that sin is to 
his mind an eternal abomination. It is this which 
is the theme of the angels' loftiest adoration, upon 
which they look with most awe-stricken rever- 
ence, in whose presence they veil their faces 
with their wings, as they sing, in sublime chorus, 
" Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty ! " It is 
this, whose remembrance strikes down lust and 
pride in the heart of the penitent sinner, and 
makes him pant after those attainments in piety 
which will render him more like his God. And 
this it is, which the impenitent sinner most 
strenuously dislikes. It is uncongenial to his 
nature. If you speak of simple love, he can 
appreciate its sweetness; but if you call it liohj 
love instead, there is an aversion of his feelings 
which he does not care to disguise; and when 
the law, the perfect law, radiant with God's holi- 
ness, shines upon him, he turns away as if its 
purity were intolerable and scathed his sight. 

Thus far we have seen the evil of sin by the 
light of those Divine attributes, every one of 
which speaks out in the precept of \h^ broken 
law. Let the law be still our schoolmaster, and 


teach us, by its terrible penalties, the same solemn 
lesson of ^visdom. Remember, then, the sentence 
passed upon the transgression of our first parent, 
of death, temporal and eternal. 

From this sentence, we learn that sin planted 
the seed of causes and influences that should 
entail the certainty of temporal and immortal 

Mark, first, the temporal woe. 

Go, stand in the midst of Paradise before the 
first sin. Range in its paths of beauty ; rest in 
its bowers of peace ; breathe in its atmosphere, 
whose every breath imparts the keener sense of 
life and the joy of immortahty. Then stand 
with the banished Adam after that sin, outside 
the walls of Eden, its gates shut and guarded, 
his back forever turned to the lost Paradise and 
his face towards a world cursed for his sake. 
And when you have contemplated the vision of 
darkness, storm, and terror long enough, as it 
stretches in perspective to the end of time — then 
travel down through the days and years of actual 
history. Summon together the dead from every 
clime and region, from hill and dell, and bloody 
field, and ocean caves, till the earth itself shall 
seem to be but one huge cemetery, and this 
witness of death shall yet speak of the exceed- 
ing sinfulness of sin. Gather together the 


human tears that have flowed through the 
channels of human sufFermg, till its ocean banks 
are full, and its moaning tide, as it swells up to 
your feet, tells of the sinfulness of sin. Let the 
groans of man's WTetchedness join in one long 
A^olumed peal of woe, and the burden of its dirge 
note is "sin." Find out the lurking places of 
want and pain, on palace floors or in caves 
of the wilderness, and every where sin has been 
before you, and left its foot-prints side by side 
with man's. 

Next pass from the temporal penalty of the 
law to the eternal, whose terrible peculiarity is, 
that it works the grand forfeiture of all for which 
man was made. He was made for God, and for 
a home of such delights as eye hath not seen, nor 
ear heard, nor have entered the heart of man. 
And this is lost and gone, and his eternity is 
worse in nothing than in this, that he is away 
from God and without God; a condition out of 
which nothing can come forth but burning pangs, 
and weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. 
Let this suffice for the personal penalty of sin, 
and its sinfulness as shown by that penalty. 

And now tm'n to see how the evil of sin is 
attested by the law, in visiting its penalty upon 
the soul of our great substitute. For it was sin 
that procured all the sorrows of the crucified Em- 


manuel. Sin drew him from Heaven, and sepa- 
rated the loving Father and the beloved Son. 
Sin compelled the mighty humiliation from the 
throne to the stable. Sin paved his way through 
life, and dogged him at every step. Sin made 
him the man of sorrows, an outcast in his own 
world, hated by those he loved. Sin smote him 
with the amazement of his bleeding agony in 
Gethsemane. Sin wove the royal robe of his 
contempt, and platted the sharp crown of his 
down-trodden majesty. Sin gave the buffet, 
mixed the gall, drove the nail, pointed the spear. 
Sin groaned in the lamentable appeal, "My God, 
my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? " And sin 
gave its last groan of expiring vengeance, when 
He, who bore the mighty load for a world of sin- 
ners, for you and me, dropped his head upon his 
breast, and cried, " It is finished ;" and the earth 
and the heavens echoed that groan, that one so 
innocent should be treated as so guilt}^ 

It was the law's retribution that could not but 
be fulfilled. It was the awful vindication of 
power, wisdom and holiness all Divine, speaking 
and acting in the broken law. If that law can 
illustrate the exceeding sinfulness of sin, it is 
when it pours its indignation upon the unoffend- 
ing head of the self-humbled God who made the 

When we see it all, and remember that even 


one sin, in its essential nature, is so evil that it 
cannot be pardoned without the blood of that 
agony, and then remember our own sins without 
recollection or number — sins of days, months, 
years — of a whole unrepented and unforgiven life, 
what a swollen aggregate of guilt ! How should 
we stand convicted before conscience, as she rises 
up in each one of us and says, "For thee, for thee!" 
Yes, for thee ; and the very fact, that we live to 
listen to such an appeal, illustrates afresh the 
divinity of the law and the baseness of its trans- 
gression. For it is the divinity of patience, for- 
bearance and love that makes that appeal, that 
holds back the law and waits for us to reach the 
cross. It has been a long-suffering law to each 
one of us. Does not the suggestion stir your 
recollections to a turmoil, each one striving for 
the pre-eminence of sadness in your heart ? How 
much defiance of God's power — how much con- 
tempt of his wisdom — how much aversion from 
his purity, has his law witnessed in us all ! In 
thought, and word, and deed — by the neglect 
of warnings — by the scorning of threats — by the 
despising of invitations — by the abuse of provi- 
dences, the perversion of prosperity, and the 
hardening of the heart against affliction — by the 
resistance of the Spirit, and by the rejection of 
Christ, the bleeding Lamb of atonement — how 


have we fearfully provoked it ! On our sick beds, 
how often have we resolved and promised to give 
our restored powers to God and have not done 
it ! When touched by an admonition, awakened 
by a sermon, impelled by the gentle striving of 
the Spirit, or induced by the view of a dying 
Redeemer, how often have we prayed and forth- 
with sinned against our prayer ! 

In all these ways God has waited and been 
with us to save us ! 

So assiduous is his love, and his beseechings 
so importimate, it may be that some of us are 
over wearied with his long-suffering, though he 
Ls not. There may be persons to whom this 
tenderness has lost its charm, and who, if their 
hearts could speak, would rather beg that God 
would trouble them no more. It is a sad abuse 
of grace, but it exposes, at least, the exceeding 
sinfulness of sin, as it is seen by the patience of 
the law. 

And it is still a patient law. The retribution 
waits, and while it waits any of us may be saved. 
May we all have grace to understand the sinful- 
ness of our sins and seek for mercy ! All, I say, 
for "all have sinned and come short of the glory 
of God." To you, to me, to all of us, the Spirit 
of truth, standing among us here, may say, with 
truthful emphasis, " Thou art the man." 



Psalm ex. 3. 

"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, 
in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the 
morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." 

In the whole strain of this Psalm, we have a 
prophetic view of the character and offices of the 
Christ to come. We see Him in the humiliation 
of his priestly character, stooping down, like a 
worn and thirsty traveller, to drink of the brook 
in the way. We see Him, as if refreshed by 
that stooping, lifting up his head in the dignity 
of an office, which, like that of Melchisedek, was 
both priestly and royal; and which, like Melchise- 
dek's, having neither beginning of days nor end 
of life, made him a king and a jyriest forever. 

It is in this character of royalty that he is 
presented to us in the third verse of the Psalm 
which is our text. The Psalmist foretells the 
triumphs of that grace which the enthroned 

3 (25) 


Saviour shall dispense in the world to gather to 
himself the great sacramental host of Ilis 
redeemed. The number of those who shall be 
converted to His dominion, is signified by the 
poetical but most intricate expression, "from the 
womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy 

The best explanation I can give of this highly 
figurative passage is this, viz: — the phrase "the 
womb of the morning" signifies the depth from 
which the light comes forth. "Dew" is an im- 
age of both multitude and beauty, and "youth" 
is significant of the vigor of that early period of 
life — i. e., as the innumerable drops glistening on 
rock and leaf and grassy spire are revealed by 
the opening day, so shall be thy countless con- 
verts when thy grace shall go forth like the vigor 
of youth, or the flooding energy of the sun's first 
light. Some, indeed, interpret this figure as 
denoting that the splendor of the Redeemer's 
victory will be seen most remarkably in the great 
number of the young who shall be converted to 
His grace. But, in the explanation I have given, 
I see no violence to the passage, while for reasons 
both theological and rhetorical, I think it is to be 
preferred. The theological reason is, that we are 
not taught that the converts of the Gospel shall 
consist principally of the young, but that inqui- 


rers of all sorts shall fly as clouds and as doves 
to their windows in their energetic wdsh for sal- 
vation. An interpretation, therefore, which 
narrows the triumphs of the cross to one class 
of mankind, fails to compass the breadth of the 
Divine plan of mercy. And the rhetorical rea- 
son is, that the explanation of this image I have 
given just includes and repeats, in a poetical way, 
the same statements w^hich had been more sim- 
ply made in the former part of the verse. Thus 
the former part, "thy people shall be willing in 
the day of thy power," expresses literally the 
idea of Christ's sovereignty, and this idea is found 
poetically expressed in the image of the early 
sunlight rushing, with the energy of youth, from 
the opening abyss of the morning. 

Again, the expression "the beauties of holi- 
ness," in the former part of the text, although 
poetical in itself, is more exquisitely figurative 
m the image of the countless dewdrops glisten- 
ing with the reflected beauty of the new light. 
Instead, therefore, of understanding the word 
"youth" as denoting the age of the converts, I 
would rather consider it as signifying the vehe- 
mence which belongs to that period of hfe, and 
thus denoting the energy of the grace of Christ. 
While, by the image of the dew, we may under- 
stand not only the number of the converts, but 
the shining beauty of their characters. 


There are, then, in this passage, two leading 
ideas of cause and effect : first, the power of 
Christ's converting grace ; second, the attractive- 
ness of a converted character or the beauties of 
hohness. Let us proceed to set forth these ideas 
a nttle more at large. 

First, the converting power of the Lord Jesus 
Christ. " Thy people shall be w^illing in the day 
of thy power." 

You will be struck with the manner in w^hich 
the pen of inspiration brings together two sugges- 
tions or points of doctrine which are usually 
thought to be contradictory, viz : — the power of 
God and the will of man. Hmnan philosophy 
has puzzled and confounded itself, time out of 
mind, in attempting to resolve the problem, how 
God can influence the w^ill of man and yet man 
be voluntary and free. So high has been the 
dispute, that the schools of philosophy have 
ranged themselves in mutual hostility on this 
platform alone. 

The single line of demarcation has been the 
question, whether the human will is free or con- 
strained, whether man is a voluntary agent or an 
agent divinely necessitated. The one school has 
decried, with a sort of horror, the freedom of man, 
as if it were an invasion of the sovereignty of 
God. The other has refused the doctrine of 


Divine constraint, as if it overthrew the responsi- 
bleness of man, and sapped the foundation of a 
moral government. 

Standing on the two extremes of opinion, these 
hostile armies have faced each other in open con- 
tradiction, shooting forth each its own arguments, 
which, however they rattled against the iron 
proof of their antagonists, fell hurtless to the 
ground. Or, if ever a champion were pierced by 
the convincing shaft and fell a victim to the con- 
troversy, the rival hosts still held their position 
without surrender and without a truce. On no 
middle ground have they ever met, nor suffered 
their flags to float side by side, to tell the world 
that truth is composed of more ideas than one. 
It is an almost touching commentary on our 
mental shortsightedness. It should make us 
fearfully distrust all extreme forms of opinion. 
Now, unlike the schools of men, God teaches us 
that the truth, which is to him a unity, is to us 
a complexity, that the world is a mixture, that 
man himself is a compound of opposite elements^ 
and man's life a constant conflict of forces. With- 
out stooping to explain to our imbecile curiosity 
the intricacies of the mighty problem, the inspi- 
ration of Almighty God, seizing on both parts of 
the question, joins them together in one state- 
ment of truth, and presses that statement in a 


practical form home upon the bosom and the brain 
of eA^cry human creature. It will not allow us 
to be amused with the c|uestion, How can I be 
responsible to God if I am dependent on Divine 
grace? nor, on the other hand, How can I be 
dependent on him for salvation, when the respon- 
sibility is all my own? 

The Bible does not scruple to declare, with that 
positiveness wdiich belongs to certainty, and that 
assurance which is not afraid of paradox, " Work 
out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 
for it is God which worketh in you, both to w^ill 
and to do of his good pleasure." 

It lodges that solemn injunction on our hearts, 
and It leaves us to speculate on it at our peril — 
to reject it to our perdition, or to act piously 
upon it to our joy and salvation. It is such a 
statement as this that we have in our text, " Thy 
people shall be wiUing in the day of thy power." 

Here are the seemingly repugnant ideas of 
man's will, acting in subordination to the Divine 
power, and yet acting freely, brought together in 
affinity and forming the solid product of truth 
by which you and I are to be saved. 

In the day of Christ's power, when he shall 
put forth that power the strongest, then shall his 
people be willing, and their willingness shall be 
in proportion as his power is put forth. This, I 


understand to be the meaning of the declaration. 
It is a declaration, which, however our specula- 
tive reason may demur, our hearts echo from those 
deep, dark chambers where conviction burns like 
pent up fire. 

We feel it to be true, even where our under- 
standing cannot grasp the truth, that there must be 
an inworking God to overrule our depravity, or 
else we can never be willing to be his. No matter 
where we find our witnesses, only let them be 
experts in human nature, competent witnesses, 
men who have thought enough of fife and of them- 
selves to have an intelligent opinion, men who have 
tried the experiment of holiness in their own 
strength, and they will testify alike. The Chris- 
tian who has mastered his unregeneracy, and the 
sinner whose unregeneracy has mastered him, 
will both confess tliat without God we can do 
nothing. Both look up to a sovereign power 
above them: the one looks tearfully, thankfully; 
the other doggedly, discontentedly. The former 
thrills, while he adores, and says, "By the grace 
of God I am what I am;" the latter writhes, as if 
he were inwardly stung, while he complains, "I 
cannot repent, I cannot give my heart to God." 
This Divine truth thus has its human attestation, 
and man is witness for that God, that his omnipo- 
tence is supreme even over the spiritual dignity 


of US immortals. And is not this the noblest aspect 
of omnipotence ? We see that attribute in nature 
moving the dull inertia, and moulding passive 
material forms, and it is great and superhuman, 
wherever we see it. But here, it is power over 
that which is itself power; spirit, living spirit, 
self-motive, active sjmit, and what is more, the 
repugnant, struggling, angry spirit of depravity. 
It lays hold on the best part of man, and bows 
it-^the life of man, and subordinates it to the 
life of God. 

All other demonstrations of omnipotence the 
world has famiUarly seen, but converting power, 
changing the life of man's spirit, the spirit of 
man's life, is the select and peculiar glory of om- 
nipotence. It exhibits the great Jehovah in the 
exercise which seems most like labor, and shows 
the might of his supremacy beyond all other 
proofs. And when, to this, you add the consid- 
eration, that the motive which urges this power 
is a motive of love, that this omnipotence is the 
omnipotence of grace, I am at a loss to conceive 
of any exhibition that can match this one. 

There is a cool, indilTerent, self-satisfied sinner; 
he loves the world supremely; he deems himself 
one of the world's most important personages; 
he is proud of his wealth, of his station, and if 
not of his intellect, 3^et proud of his opinion. 


He receives the message of God with a supercil- 
ious scruple, as if he could adequately judge of 
Divine things in the strength of his own under- 
standing, as if his untaught opinions were an 
oracle from heaven^ — God speaking in him — to 
supersede the bod}^ of revelation, which has illu- 
minated all Christendom, and converted all Chris- 
tians. See that man, as he hugs his very igno- 
rance, rejecting Divine truth the more obstinately 
the nearer it comes to his conscience, and harden- 
ing his heart beneath the dews and the sunlight, 
the lightning and the rain of God's grace. 

I have drawn such a picture, because it is the 
portrait of a character the most unlikely to be 
converted. His pride, and his ignorance, and his 
passionless hardness of heart, render him far 
less impressible than if he had quick and ram- 
pant feelings, acting out in a rude and sensual 
life. But look at him as the incarnation of bad 
and ungenial qualities, think of him as unfavor- 
ably as you must, and with as much pity as 
you can, he may be one of Christ's people yet, 
in the day of the Eedeemer's grace and power. 
Some arrow, from the quiver of the Almighty, 
will pierce the obdurate heart. Some truth will 
flit past his mind with a ghostly look that reminds 
him of death, judgment and eternity, some re- 
membered sin will fester in his conscience^ and 


the sense that he is in the grasp of God, will 
shake his stout pride, llis cold blooded scorn 
will be changed to hot hate, and he will wrestle 
with the spirit in his heart as if for life or death. 
You might suppose him farther off than ever 
from the kingdom of Christ. But, one by one, 
new truths will crowd in upon his mind. His old 
impressions of himself will be crowded out. He 
sees more of his nature's sinful depths, and more 
of God's unfathomable purity; darker, broader 
lines of sin in his own history, brighter lines of 
mercy in the Divine dealings ; until a certain ten- 
derness grows over his feelings, not the raw, 
savage irritability of dislike, but a gentle tone of 
sensibility that is mellowing his heart, and pre- 
paring it to dissolve away in penitential sorrow. 
Then he loves to go away by himself, and be- 
gins to think of prayer; and bye and bye he is 
on his knees, and his eyes, so often turned up in 
scorn, nre now cautiously lifted in inquiring de- 
sire and humble confession. Their callous lids 
begin to pour out unaccustomed tears. His lips, so 
often filled with his proud reproaches of Chris- 
tians and their religion, now labor and tremble 
with the big utterance of his sins. Thus, as he 
gazes, he sees the image of a bloody cross and a 
bleeding Saviour. He hears the earnest call, 
" Come unto me." The whole meaning of Calvary 


flashes on his mind. He sees why there should 
be a Saviour. He understands the value of aton- 
ing blood and the preciousness of Christ. His 
soul moves forward, watching if it shall be re- 
pulsed. The nearer he comes, the more benign 
seems Christ's compassionate look. He hesitates 
a moment, it may be to unclasp some darling sin, 
that has battened, hke a parasite, on his soul, and 
clings there to the last; and when this is done, 
he falls down and clasps the foot of the cross 
with the whole willingness of his longing soul. 
You know the rest; he is a justified believer. He 
has found salvation. He is one of Christ's peo- 
ple. What made him so, do you ask? Ask 
him ; he will tell you, " Grace — pure sovereign 
grace. Christ's dear power acting in the day of 
his power." "But were you forced? was your 
will constrained ?" "Yes, sweetly constrained, else 
I had remained in the gall of bitterness and in 
the bond of iniquity; but never was I so pro- 
foundly willing as in the soul-absorbing act, by 
which I grasped the cross. Never did I seem to 
myself so free and masterly in my free agency, 
as when I gathered up my whole being, and 
offered it as a tribute to redeeming love." 

My brethren, this is the way to solve the 
paradox of Divine sovereignty and human free- 
dom, practically, at the cross. Faith is the 
touchstone, pardon is the fruit. 


I have here described only a single example ; 
but it illustrates the day of Christ's power and 
the willingness of his people. In that prophetic 
period to which our text points, when that power 
shall rush forth like the volumed light from the 
womb of the morning, then, no doubt, there will 
be myriads of converts like the drops of dew. 
But in each separate instance we see only the 
same repeated process as now brings a sinner 
to salvation. Will those prophetic myriads shine 
in their regeneration like dew-drops in the sun- 
light? So does every single convert glow with 
the same holy beauty, for this is the beauty of 

The beauty of holiness was to be our second 
topic of remark. The Psalmist employs the em- 
phatic plural, "Thy people shall be willing in the 
day of thy power, in the heauties of hohness;" 
implying that these beauties are many. I ap- 
peal to you then, brethren, if there be not a cer- 
tain intellectual beauty in this blending together 
of spiritual forces in conversion. God's sovereign 
omnipotence, mingling with man's free agency, 
without abasing the sovereignty or abating the 
freedom. God never more like God, than when 
he arrests the sinning soul in its recklessness, 
and captivates its whole being to himself; and 
man never half so much like a man, as when he 


masters his depravity, renounces his sins and 
presents himself a free-will offering to his Sa- 

It is the beauty which the mind feels when 
opposing principles are reconciled, and repugnan- 
ces dissolved, and deep mystical truth demon- 
strated by open experience. 

I appeal to you again, if there be not the beau- 
ty of moral fitness in the transaction by which 
a disobedient servant is reclaimed to his rightful 
lord and master; a rebel lays down his arms, sub- 
dued to the constitutional authority; a sinner led 
to find a Saviour ; a wandering star brought back 
to take its place in God's grand system of light. 
So much as the sweet harmony of the w^orld has 
been broken by this jarring element of sin, the 
only discord in it, is not the sense of beauty 
awakened when that harmony is restored and the 
sin destroyed ? Every conversion to Jesus Christ, 
tends, so far as it goes, to restore the original 
pattern of the creation, when God's smile reflected 
beauty from its unsinning and unpunished hfe; 
when order reigned unmarred, and all created 
being gravitated tow^ards God. It is beautiful^ 
then, to see a depraved and offending creature 
return where his duty calls, and forswear his in- 
surrection, and take his holy stand in the ranks 
of Christ's people. 


And I appeal to you again, if there be not 
an added beauty of holiness belonging to the 
character of the convert himself. In the willing 
surrender of himself to God's will, he becomes 
joined to him in union of nature and communion 
of spirit. A conformity to the Divine character 
follows the transformation of his will. God in 
Christ becomes the pattern of the believer's life. 
Now we know wdiat constitutes the resplendent 
beauty of Jehovah ; not merely that his power is 
vast, his wisdom infniite, his presence universal, 
but that his highest perfections are moral; that 
over all his attributes he throws the mantle of a 
pervading holiness, glorious in its purity, and 
flashing forth the full splendor of the Godhead. 
Of this Divine quality, the converted soul drinks 
in its fill. The God whom the Christian lovingly 
adores, he adores for his holiness, and while he 
loves, holiness shines forth from his open charac- 
ter, like the transferred beauty of heaven itself. 

I will not point to every Christian as the model 
of this beauty, but I am sure you can remember 
some whose characters seemed to have been 
bathed in heaven; whose meekness, gentleness, 
piety, charity, beamed forth like rays of beauti- 
ful light; and when you traced them back, you 
found they flowed forth from a whole character 
of holiness which was itself one beauty. 


God thus transfers himself to his loving child. 
The sinner adopted in Christ becomes Christ-like ; 
and surely, if there be any attraction of beauty in 
our adorable Maker, that beauty becomes our own 
when God's shattered image within us is restored, 
and we are made anew in his likeness. 

And how that holy beauty mantles the Chris- 
tian more and more as he starts from his conver- 
sion and grows daily in grace; living nearer to 
Christ, and bringing thought after thought into 
captivity to him ! How it sheds a new loveliness 
upon youth, imparts dignity to manhood, and 
makes hoary hairs like a glistening diadem ! How 
every way beautiful is a converted life! How 
more than beautiful a holy death, when faith, and 
love, and hope, cluster about the pillow^ of the 
saint like a halo, never so purely bright and 
beautiful to our eyes, as wdien they are just go- 
ing to light the soul's way to God ! 

Brethren, these are some of the beauties of 
holiness revealed by the power of Christ, like 
dew^-drops by the rising sun. My Christian 
friends, wdiat attractions does our God ascribe to 
us ! I fear, indeed, that our hearts are forced to 
admit that this Divine beauty is soiled and marred 
in us, and we fail to reflect the loveliness of our 
adorable pattern. Then let us endeavor to per- 
fect the image of this beauty by a close conformi- 


ty to Christ, by humbler, hoHcr prayer, and a 
more frequent remembrance of our first love. 
There is but one way of holiness, and that is full 
submission to Christ. His j^ower and our will- 
ingness, which went together at our conversiun, 
must abide together in our life — in our death. 
He in us, we in him. Let our holiness be from 
kim, and his glory shall be on us. 

I would that some heart, hitherto rejecting 
Christ, might be, this day, so drawn by the beau- 
ties of holiness as to seek his converting grace. 
My dear friends, think, if piety be of so winning 
beauty, how odious must be the deformity of sin ! 
Can you bear that moral blur on your natures ? 
Will you go to your grave thus, then, to stand 
up before your Saviour, face to face; he glorious 
in his beautiful holiness, you repulsively different 
in every quality? Come to him. It is the day 
of his power, of rich resurrection, grace able to 
convert you. Do not some of you see him on 
his kingly throne, bending his sceptre towards 
you, in token that he designates 3^ou for merc}^ 
and conversion? Do not turn away from the 
sign. He is able to save you, but not against your 
will; Jesus Christ never lost a soul, such is his 
power; but many a soul has lost Jesus Christ, 
such has been its unwillin":ness. 



Psalm iii. 5. 
" He will ever be mindful of his covenant." 

Nothing can bring home to our minds the 
thought of God so nearly, and so dearly, as to 
remember that he is a covenant God. As he 
manifests himself in nature and in the dealings 
of his j)i'ovidence, we are impressed, and some- 
times awfully impressed, but not attracted and 
affectionately won. 

Many things show us his distinct attributes 
operating here and there, and always operating 
wonderfully; his omnipotence moving in one 
track; his omniscience uttering itself in another; 
his omnipresence flashing forth splendidly, when 
it is most required and least expected; his jus- 
tice always most inflexible against a world in 
arms ; his truth, clear as the sun, and just as 
constant; and above all these separate attributes, 
like a crown of glory, his sovereignty constitu- 
4* (41) 


ting him God and Lord of all; his will, the uni- 
versal law, and all his infinitude obedient to his 
will, giving no account of itself to any other be- 

This is the way, in which we naturally look at 
God — a great and sovereign Lord and manager 
of the world, whose ways are past finding out. 
The religion of nature can teach us nothing better 
of him than this — He is distant, separated from 
us in the sublime and awful loneliness of his 

It is not until we open the volume of his re- 
velation, that we witness anything more cheering 
to human want and weakness. There we learn 
that amazing truth, that God has hemmed in all 
his infinite attributes by a voluntary restraint. 
He has bowed the heaven of his glory, has 
come down to the human level, and entered into 
a mutual compact wath man, on terms of equality. 
He has pledged his whole perfections for his 
part of the agreement ; and his wdiole sovereign- 
ty is henceforward bound by fixed and known 

Here is the great value of the Bible to the 
world, viz: that it makes known the great God 
as a covenant God. Herein the Bible discloses 
the depth of wisdom wdiich no created mind could 
else have fathomed, how God and man could 

THE COVENi\JsTr. 43 

come together. Herein is the Bible, the man of 
our soul's counsel, the light of our feet, the lamp 
to our path in the pilgrimage to the other world, 
showing us how to be saved. Herein, again, is 
it the fountain of comfort to the weary and op- 
pressed with sin and woe, pledging all Divine 
sufficiency for our relief 

The child of God loves to contemplate him in 
the covenant, for the terrible splendors of his 
presence are veiled and softened. He can praise 
God with no less of adoration, and with vastly 
more of tenderness. Thus the Psalmist looked 
upon him, and sang his honor : " I will praise 
the Lord with my whole heart. His work is 
honorable and glorious. The Lord is gracious 
and full of compassion. He will ever be mindful 
of his covenant. He hath showed his people 
the power of his works, that he may give them 
the heritage of the heathen. He sent redemp- 
tion to his people. He hath commanded his 
covenant forever. Holy and reverend is his 

We too are permitted to praise the God of the 
covenant, and to this happy exercise let me in- 
vite your souls, by considering, briefly, the history 
of the Divine covenant with man; then its na- 
ture and conditions ; and, finally, its advantages. 
First, the history of the covenant begins with the 


creation. When our first father came forth liv- 
ing from the hand of his Maker, when crowned 
with blessings, he stood the sole owner of Para- 
dise, with a mind untainted by any sin, a proba- 
tioner with a holy will; the conditions on whic-h 
his lot was based were those of a covenant. lie 
w\as made in subjection to the Divine law, and it 
was his duty to obey. There was then no im- 
pediment to his obedience. He had both the 
disposition and will untrammelled to serve his 
Creator, with his body, mind and soul. This 
would have been his duty, even if it had brought 
no recompense. If his life were only to last but 
a day, and then cold extinction were to wrap up 
his being forever, it w^ould have been his bounden 
duty to render up that short and unhoping life- 
time to Him who gave him faculties and life to- 
gether. To live for God who made him and who 
owned him, was the very least that could be de- 
manded by the law of nature and of reason. To 
live for God and die, was all that nature and 
reason suggested. 

But revelation suggested more, because it was 
the revelation of a covenant. God came near to 
man, and holduig before him the rule of his duty, 
told him, "Do this and thou shalt live — live im- 
mortally and happily with me; but if you fail of 
it, the consequence will be death — the death of 


your soul, and an everlasting separation from me 
and the blessed." 

The covenant was open, just and honorable to 
God and his creature. But his creature dishon- 
ored it. How long he obeyed we are not informed, 
but he broke the covenant and forfeited its re- 
ward, and that forfeit entailed upon his race the 
miserable certainty that they too would sin and 

This was the short-lived history of God's first 
covenant with man — the covenant of works, 
whose sublime justice and wisdom were defeated 
by man's free-will to sin. Then, while the mis- 
ery impended, there came from the thick dark- 
ness a new revelation, but, like the former, still a 
revelation of a covenant ; not now a covenant of 
works, but of grace — the promise of mercy to the 
fallen in those words of eternal comfort, "The 
seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's 
head." It was not only a new, but a better 
covenant than the former. That had promised 
remuneration to toil and patience, a reward to 
unfallen and unwavering obedience ; but this re- 
vealed a hope for the lost, redemption for the 
ruined, and help for the helpless. If that were 
a covenant of works, this w<'is the covenant of 
grace, described by the prophet in such encour- 
aging terms as these: "Behold, I will make a 


new covenant Aviih my people after those days, 
saith the Lord; not accordmg to the covenant 
that I made with their fathers. I will put my 
law in their hearts, and in their minds will I 
write it, and their sins and iniquities will I re- 
member no more; I will be to them a God, and 
they shall be to me a people." 

The first covenant was plainly adapted to state 
of man, while he yet wore his faultless faculties 
like a garment of light and beauty; while his 
heart was piu*e,his will unbiassed, and every power 
freely his own. The covenant of grace was 
suited to him no less after the noble freedom of 
his powers was lost, his mind degraded to the 
communion with sin, and his heart depraved to 
unholy loves. All that he needed, originall}^, in 
his unfallen state, was an incentive and a rule to 
obey; the disposition was his already. 

But when, alas, he had fallen, he needed 
more — more than his own nature could beget, or 
the world confer — pardon for the sin done, power 
to sin no more; in a word, a new heart, a Divine 
life. The new covenant did not abate its demand 
of holiness; it required the condemned sinner to 
be conformed to God or die, but then it did not 
rest in an outward rule and an olVered recom- 
pense. These would have only aggravated the 
woe of a poor creature, who knew that he was 


guilty^ and had no power nor heart to be other- 

The glory of the new covenant is, that it su- 
persedes the outward rule, and transfers the law 
of holiness from tablets of stone to the living, 
converted heart. It makes the outward holiness 
spring from an inward principle wrought in the 
soul; so that the natural grow^th of regeneration 
would be up nearer and nearer to God's own im- 
age and likeness. 

I said that this new covenant superseded the 
old so early as Adam's fall. Yea, in the fore- 
thought counsel of God it was older than this; 
for from the foundation of the w^orld, when that 
sin of Paradise w^as darkly shadowed to the 
Divine foreknowledge, this grand remedy of re- 
demption by a new covenant, was just as dis- 
tinctly planned. We are told that He w'ho 
secures to us this covenant by sealing it w^ith 
his own blood, the great incarnate Saviour, was 
in the Divine determination slain from the foun- 
dation of the world. 

That permitted fall of Paradise was thus made 
to exhibit more illustriously the character of the 
Most High, and bring his joined attributes into 
a more central hght. It Avas full}^ demonstrated, 
indeed, w^hen the Saviour paid the atoning price 
for our souls' rescue; and to us, upon whom the 


ends of the world are come, it presents itself in 
its finished form. Its plan and theory are fully 
revealed. No new revelation will add to its 
conditions, or change a single feature. Every 
regenerate believer in Jesus has tasted its ripe 
fruit already. Each one of us must live and die 
by this covenant, for it is the last and onl}^ one 
whereby we can be saved. 

Secondly, let us dwell a little then upon it, 
simply as it is a covenant. 

As a covenant, it supposes that the two con- 
tracting parties, God and man, come together 
upon an equality. The transaction is mutual, 
binding each party while both are true; but re- 
leasing either when the other foils to make good 
his word. The first announcement of the cove- 
nant is in substance this : 

"Immortal creatures, sinful, doomed and des- 
perate, the God of Heaven speaks, ' Wh}^ will ya 
die?' "There is a great salvation provided for 
the lost, purchased with blood. It is to be had 
freely, without money and without price. I ask 
no hard conditions. I only ask that you would 
see yourselves as I see you; not through the 
medium of your own self-love, but in the light of 
eternity, as it will shine upon your death-bed. 
You are guilty ; you are blind ; you are corrupted 
in your souls. I only ask that you realize your 


condition, and come with this conviction to the 
cross of the bleeding Emmanuel. Look up to 
him with the sorrow of your felt sin, and belie v- 
ingly commit yourselves to his saving power, 
for he and I are one, and you shall be saved. 1 
demand only this faith on your part; while on 
my own part, I pledge each and all of my infi- 
nite attributes that all things necessary for your 
need shall be bestowed : pardon for 3^our sin, com- 
fort for your sorrow, strength for your weakness, 
grace for life and death, and joy for eternity, 
without any other stint than your capacity to re- 
ceive it, or any other condition than the constancy 
of your faith in me." 

This is the Divine proposition, and every can- 
didate for salvation accepts it simply thus : The 
answer of his crushed and penitent soul is, "Lord, 
I will; I accept the offer; my sin is more than 
I can bear; it cries to heaven; I am powerless to 
save myself from the accumulated woe of so 
much guilt ; it rolls forward in a mass of retribu- 
tion, gathering blackness as it comes, and I am 
helpless to resist or to escape it. I am lost with- 
out a Saviour, and if thou wilt receive such an 
one as I, so unworthy, here. Lord, I surrender 
myself in faith to thy covenant of grace. If thou 
wilt take me as I am, I am forever thine." 

Now, in a transaction Mke this, which is sub^ 


stantially the process of salvation to every saved 
creature, it is evident that the power, the grace, 
the whole efficacy of the covenant is on the part 
of God, and the sweet peace of believing submis- 
sion is only from grasping the promises as a mere 

Mark, then, how all this freeness of blessing is 
secured, not by the powder of man, but by the 
character of God. And here occurs the view I 
have already suggested, which renders God in 
the covenant so dear to the Christian. For each 
attribute of his is condensed, if I may say so, in 
the compact w^hich he makes with each believer. 
His truth fastens his promise to the very rock of 
ages. His very righteousness holds him to the 
forgiveness of our sins. His omniscience is ever 
wakeful for our interests. His almightiness can- 
not wander to other worlds and new creations, 
leaving this lost and forlorn; for all his power is 
distinctly pledged to guide and govern us to 
glory — ^yea, all the sovereignty of his infinite 
freedom has narrowed itself to act not arbitrarily, 
but with one single aim, the redeeming of our 

All these attributes make him mindful of his 
covenant ; and when to these we add the eternity 
that enshrines him, his dwelling-place, his na- 
ture's home, which makes him the great, unchange- 


able I AM, we can understand the Psalmist's ex- 
pression, "He will be ever mindful of his cove- 

Thirdly, now let us, in the last place, consider 
the value of this sweet truth in its application to 
life and practice. 

Take first, then, the occasion at which I have 
already glanced, the first coming of a soul to its 
Saviour. However the complexion of the trans- 
action may vary in different cases, its substantial 
features are the same in all. There has been, 
with every Christian, a time which found a con- 
scious crisis in the history of his soul, when he 
first closed the covenant with God, when the 
sense of his perishing want brought him to his 
Saviour. Then he felt the lingeriag unwilling- 
ness of his unbehef, troubling his mind with 
doubts and his heart with fears. He was not 
sure that salvation was for him. He seemed to 
himself too unworthy to hope. His self-condem- 
nation actually threatened to be more fatal to 
him than the sentence of God, for the Divine ac- 
cusation was joined to the promise of hope; but 
his own convictions were without all encourage- 
ment. At that hour of discouragement, there is 
no reflection so productive of comfort as the re- 
membrance, that the salvation of a sinner is a 
matter of solemn compact. The penitent does 


not truly sec God's countenance, with its look of 
reconciliation, until he sees him as he is in the 
covenant. Ilis fears abate only when he looks 
upon the Crucified, and beholds the awful testi- 
monial of his safety in every wound, and marks 
how every drop of blood falls like a new seal 
iipon the covenant of peace. His doubts dwin- 
dle as he gazes, and his fears die out as his love 
begins to swell, until at length he is ashamed to 
doubt, and afraid to fear any longer; and with no 
less of humility, but with infinitely more of hope, 
lays himself at the Saviour's feet, behoving and 

And again, this process is repeated, and God 
in the covenant becomes precious anew, in those 
periods of despondency which sometimes befal 
the best Christians, oftener in fact than they be- 
fal the worst. They may come from the conscious 
imperfections of our religious character, even 
while we are striving to live near to God ; or they 
may arise after a long course of backsliding, when 
some affliction or calamity has stripped us of our 
self-complacency, and leaves us desolate. Then 
the life that is gone, seems a long dark omen, 
and our Christian profession a long falsehood. 
The broken vows of our covenant come back 
upon the memory, like witnesses of perdition; 
and the dismayed soul, thrown from its balance, 
knows not where to turn, nor what to do. 


Gracious as God is, will he receive tfiem again 
who have so wantonly turned his grace to licen- 
tiousness? Although a Saviour has died, yet 
have they not crucified him afresh, and put him 
to an open shame by their delinquent lives ? Can 
there be hope for such? 

Yes, my friends, for, just in the midst of this 
cloud, there is a rent and a chasm, and through 
that chasm there gleams a ray of light. It is a 
beam from God — God in Christ — God ever mind- 
ful of his covenant. Though you believe not, 
yet he abideth faithful. He cannot deny him- 
self He is pledged with all the stress of his in- 
finitude to save you if you will. It is not he 
who has failed, for he has beset you behind and 
before, and laid his hand upon you, whether you 
would or not, striving to save you because he 
was mindful of his covenant. But it was your 
unfaithfulness that begat your fears and sorrows. 
You ceased to trust him, and relied on yourself. 
You forgat your prayers — forgat his pleasant 
communion, and now that you may learn how 
more precious is the covenant, he lets fall his 
chastening rod, and you halt, and lift up your 
unwonted eyes to heaven, and remember your 
own broken vows. 

It is you, not he, who have been unmindful 

of the covenant. Can he forget the soul upon 


Avliich lias ever fallen a drop of his Son's precious 
blood ? It is not so easy to obliterate that mark. It 
ingrahis the very soul — that blood of Jesus. It is 
the mark of the covenant, and, however it may 
be disguised by your errors, or covered over Aviih 
your sins, " The covenant of the Lord standeth 
sure, having this seal — the Lord knoweth them 
that are his." 

Go to him then in the assurance of faith, even 
if it be with the sadness of self-reproach, and 
plead with him. Plead nothing but the promise. 
Plead his past mercies as the reason for fresh 
compassion. Dedicate yourself in faith, and your 
rejoicing spirit will join with the Psalmist's in 
proclaiming that '' He is ever mindful of his cove- 

Before we part, let me point out, to another 
class of persons, the bearing of this truth on them. 
"God is ever mindful of his covenant," and his 
covenant is that he that cometh to him by Christ, 
shall in no wise be cast out, and "there is no 
other name given under heaven, wdiereby we can 
be saved." 

If God remembers this covenant, what shall 
that remembrance be to you? Oh! how full of 
disaster to the soul that rejects the gospel; Avho, 
on some unsound pretext, excuses himself from a 
serious attention to his salvation, and trusts to an 


unknown mercy — shall I say? — nay, has no trust 
but upon the known displeasure of God! You 
choose a w^ay which God has not chosen, but for- 
bidden. You cast yourself off from a covenanted 
salvation, back upon the original condition of man 
without a covenant. You reject a Saviour, and 
determine to be tried by your ovm deservings. 
You will earn heaven for yourself, or lose it en- 

Earn it for yourself! Will you abide that is- 
sue ? Then, alas for you ! for so sure as God is 
pledged in every attribute to be mindful of his 
covenant, so sure is the eternal Godhead pledged 
that you cannot thus be saved. 



Revelation iv. 3. 


The beloved disciple who leaned on Jesus' 
breast, was permitted to enjoy that intimacy long 
after the Sa^dour had returned to the bosom of 
his Father. lie was appointed the confidential 
prophet of the New Testament, to whom was 
unfolded the whole panoramic history of the gos- 
pel. Rapt into the heavens on a Lord's day, 
his spirit surveyed the unutterable glory of his 
Lordj and received the communications of his 
plans to an extent that was unrevealed to all 
the world besides. 

The fruits of his Sunday's vision are described 
in the mystical book of Revelation, from which 
we have taken our text. Abounding in emble- 
matic speech, this book utters its sayings so 
darkly, and presents its oracular truth in such a 



shadowy form, that when to this uncertainty we 
add our own ignorance of the future, it is ahnost 
impossible to determine, in every case, its pro- 
phetic meaning. 

When, therefore, this evangelist undertakes to 
show us, as they were shown to him, the things 
that shall be hereafter, he leaves so large room 
to be filled with untold details, that the reader's 
mind begins to throw in its own suggestions, and 
fills the outline of the picture with the arbitrary 
lights and shadows of conjecture. And hence it 
is that the prophetic delineation is so differently 
represented by different interpreters, each one 
colouring the prophecy with the hues of his own 

But although this may be true of the prophetic 
portion of this book, I do not know why its 
other parts may not be understood as well as 
any other writing which employs a figurative 
style, and requires only the natural explanation 
of its metaphors and allusions; its doctrines and 
its precepts may be intelligible, however poeti- 
cally conveyed, and when understood, are just as 
effective as if their language were altogether un- 

I trust, therefore, that we may, without any 
violence of interpretation, learn the mind of the 
Spirit from the passage before us, rich as I con- 
ceive it to be with Divine edification. 


The chapter opens with an account of the 
manner in which the vision was introduced to 
the prophet's eye. ^^ After this I looked, and 
behold a door was opened in heaven, and the 
first voice which I heard was as of a trumpet, 
talking with me ; which said, Come up hither, 
and I will show thee things which must be here- 
after. And immediately I was in the spirit: 
and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one 
sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look 
upon like a jasper and sardine stone. And 
there was a rainbow round about the throne, in 
sight like unto an emerald." 

The apostle then goes on to describe the celes- 
tial attendants who surrounded the throne, and 
the homage they devoutly paid to him who sat 
upon it, crying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Al- 
mighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 

But our immediate attention is rather due to 
the foregoing passage, in which he describes the 
theme and its glories. He that sat upon it was 
like a jasper and a sardine stone. "And there 
was a rainbow about it, in sight like unto an 
emerald." In this highly symbohc description, 
I think we may find a profound and interesting 
Christian doctrine; in the person of him who sat 
upon the throne, we at once discern the majestic 
presence of the Almighty. If we may suppose 


this vision to be the same with that which the 
prophet Ezekiel beheld, it suggests another 
truth worthy of our regard. In the first chapter 
of that prophet's book, twenty-sixth verse, he 
says that "upon the throne which he saw, was 
the appearance of a man." Is not this embodied 
presence of Jehovah in human shape, the same 
Divine being whom the Scriptures call the Son of 
Man? and by comparing the prophet's vision 
with the evangelist's, must we not suppose that 
since the unalterable throne of heaven belongs 
to the unchangeable God, who will not give his 
glory to another, the glorious personage to whom 
St. John was introduced was none other than his 
once down-trodden Saviour, but still his incarnate 
God, now exalted to his mediatorial throne, and 
wielding the sceptre of his blood-bought dominion 
over the world. How beautifully does this side> 
light of evidence bring out the colouring and 
deepen the impression of the great doctrine of 
Christ's Divinity, showing, in an incidental way, 
that it is the magnificent truth of heaven. 

Next, our attention is called to the appearance 
of this august personage. "He was to look 
upon like a jasper and sardine stone." It can- 
not be determined with assurance what particu- 
lar gem is here meant by the name of sardine 
stone, since there is no mineral, which in our time 


is SO designated. But from the best evidence 
we have, it would appear, like the jasper, to be- 
long to the agate species, admitting of a high 
polish, and exhibiting various bands of bright 
and gorgeous colours traversing the stone in pa- 
rallel directions. The meaning of the simile 
then would seem to be, that amidst the general 
splendour which encompassed the Divine pres- 
ence, there were discerned the distinct hues of 
God's several attributes forming the very struc- 
ture of his being, pervading his whole nature, 
and girding him with his Divine perfections like 
so many bands of glory and beauty. How true 
a similitude is this of the manner in which the 
Divine character is exhibited to our view ! 

When we look into heaven, we know the holy 
seat of God by the flood of living light, that is 
poured forth from his jDresence, and fills the 
heavens with its splendour. And at the first 
view we discover nothing but that vast and in- 
describable glory. But as our eyes grow accus- 
tomed to the vision, and we gaze into the midst 
of those bright depths, we then discern the dis- 
tinct ribs of colour, which show the place and the 
direction of the varied attributes of the Godhead. 
We learn that the white effulgence that encircles 
his throne, is the blended light of all his several 
perfections, which inwrought into the substance 


of bis nature. There is the pure and pearly 
lustre of his holiness, showing the spotless excel- 
lence, which loathes iniquity as a stain. There 
is the bright cerulean band of his gentleness, his 
forbearance, and long suffering, that men gaze 
at so boldly and so wantonly. 

And then, there is the golden vein of his im- 
perishable truth, shining forth with the warm, 
rich splendour of the most precious attribute of 
God. And lastly, there is the deep crimson belt 
of the Divine justice, flashing forth the gorgeous 
and terrific splendour of an angry God, and forc- 
ing us to associate in our minds the Divine dis- 
pleasure with the thoughts of blood. 

When w^e thus survev the Divine character, 
and mark the distinctness of his attributes, we 
are apt to fasten our attention upon one or 
another of them exclusively. His purity im- 
presses us alone, and we shrink and hide ourselves 
from him, because we are so unworthy and dare 
not come at his call. Or else his mercy becomes 
the quality we think of most, and we presume 
upon it too much, and grow daring in our mis- 
deeds ; or if we think of his golden truth, it only 
confirms our fears, or our arrogance, while the 
sanguinary hue of his justice, if we look at noth- 
ing else, drives us to despair. This is the effect 
of looking at the Divine attributes separately. 


We exalt one and depress the rest. We learn to 
think of the selected one, as if it were the whole 
of his character, and then, when we bring in the 
thought of God's sovereignty and almightiness, 
and attach it to the favourite attribute on which 
we dwell most, that attribute seems to us unre- 
strained and lawless, overriding every other, and 
making him a God all weakness or all vengeance. 
Only suppose a Deity absolute in all his ways 
and will, liable to act as one or another attribute 
shall be uppermost ; suppose an uncovenanting 
God, bound by no promise, pledged to no plan, 
and you unhinge the whole fabric of human hope, 
you throw down the gate for licentiousness or 
despair, to riot and lay waste the soul of man. 
"Save me," said Martin Luther, "save me from 
the hands of an absolute God. 

Now to meet this necessity of our moral na- 
tures, God has been graciously pleased to reveal 
himself as a covenant God, and this I suppose 
to be the import of the symbolic description of 
the text, "There wa-s a rainbow about the 
throne." The rainbow was the instituted sign of 
the covenant which God established with Noah. 
" I will set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be 
for a token of a covenant between me and the 
earth. And I will remember my covenant which 
is between me and every living creature of all 


flesh, and the waters shall no more be a flood to 
destroy all flesh." Thus God bound himself by 
a solemn promise. He restrained his omnipo- 
tence. He built high walls to the path of his dis- 
pleasure, and pledged his whole sovereignty for 
the safety and comfort of mankind. But he has 
likewise entered into covenant with us for our 
spiritual life, a covenant of peace and of salvation 
revealed in Jesus Christ, and foretold by the 
prophet, thus : " This is the covenant I will make 
with them in those days, saith the Lord, I 
will put my law in their hearts," and "I will be 
to them a God, and they shall be to me a people ; 
I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and 
their sins and iniquities will I remember no 

Because, therefore, the rainbow was the world- 
wide token of God's temporal covenant, it is 
adopted in the figurative description of St. John, 
as the sign of that better covenant in Christ 
Jesus. And thus, from these words, "There 
was a rainbow about the throne, in sight like 
unto an emerald," we eliminate this beautiful, 
and heart-cheering truth, that the High and 
Mighty One who sitteth on the throne, clothing 
himself with the splendours of a universal sov- 
ereignty as with a garment, has so girdled that 
throne with his voluntary covenant that he is 


pledged never to use his sovereignty, except in 
the prescribed way of his promise and his oath. 
He has fixed the bounds of each moral attribute 
of his nature, as if he should say, " Thus far shalt 
thou come and no farther." He has bowed the 
heavens and come down to the human platform 
of agreement and bargain. He has entered into 
terms with mankind, which last as long as this 
probationary life, and these terms are all con- 
firmed by him with an oath and the pledge of his 
Son's life. It is the new covenant in his blood. 
On these securities the covenant is built, like a 
wall of flashing adamant about his throne, to hem 
in the absoluteness of his sovereignty and to re- 
flect back his faithfulness, or rather like a rain- 
bow encircling his presence, green like an em- 

This, then, is the general import of the text. 
Let us now analyze its meaning, and vicAV it in 
its parts. 

First, then, because when we look at God we 
behold him in tjie covenant, there is no room for 
those partial views of the Divine character of 
which I have spoken. It is not in the jasper 
and sardine stone that he chooses to present 
himself to us. He does not display his attributes 
in the separated bands of light and glory. It is 
God in the covenant, God as he has bargained to 


Tbe, not God as, in his absoluteness, he was capa- 
ble of being. No man has a right, God has not 
permitted it, to insulate the Divine attributes, 
and brood over one to the neglect of the rest. No 
man may sink with despair at his absolute vin- 
dictive justice, for the covenant is a covenant of 
reconciliation. No man may basely trample upon 
the Divine tenderness, as if it had no limit, and no 
recoil, for the covenant declares the terms on which 
alone his mercy shall be shown. No man may 
rightly shrink away from the Divine holiness, be- 
cause he is impure and guilty, for the covenant's 
first word is, that heaven is satisfied for human 
guilt. And finall}^, no man may misuse the truth- 
fulness of God, to countenance either his fears or 
his presumption, for the whole faithfulness of God 
is absorbed and concentrated upon the mainte- 
nance of his covenant. Yield up your minds then 
to no partial view of God. Lookto that bow, set 
like a jewelled canopy above the throne. Let it 
mirror forth the blended beauty of all his attri- 
butes, and when you would understand what he 
is to us, read it in the book of the new covenant. 
Again — The covenant, let us remember, is the 
covenant of God in Christ. He is called the me- 
diator of the new covenant ; and again, " I will give 
thee for a covenant to the people." It is in him 
and his blood that the covenant is sealed, and 


hence it is, that in him alone God manifests him- 
self to men. This is beautifully typified in the 
text. The rainbow itself is formed both by the re- 
fraction and the reflection of the solar hght. So 
that the insufferable blaze which floods the sun's 
vast disk, is first broken into its prismatic hues, 
then joined in the sweet and tempered colours 
of the bow, and reflected to our eyes in one tall 
earth-crown of mellow light and beauty. So is 
it in Christ Jesus. Because no man could be- 
hold God and live, and men turned away their 
scathed sight, he revealed himself in a new way. 
He embodied his essential brightness in the per- 
son of his Son. Upon his incarnate nature he 
poured out the fulness of the Godhead, and 
every perfection of the Deity entered into the 
person of Emanuel. There, like the flashing 
beams of heaven's light, the brightness of the 
Father's glory was refracted into its primi- 
tive rays, blended in soft and gentle colouring, 
and reflected towards us in the mellow beauty 
of humanity divinely perfect. We can gaze up- 
on him, and not be overpowered nor dismayed. 
We can admire the intense beauty of each 
Divine attribute, as it throws forth its peculiar 
tinge of glor}^, and yet we cannot tell where each 
one begins to blend with the next, to make up the 
collective beauty that adorns our living Saviour. 


In the life of Christ we behold the acting out of 
the living Godhead in the perfect display of 
purity, tenderness, and truthfulness, joined with 
the most holy severity of justice. And in his 
death we behold him the patient, as he had been 
the agent of all these attributes of God, suffering 
them even as he had practised them, offering a 
God-like atonement and sacrifice to justice, in 
order to secure the covenant of peace. 

He was indeed the rainbow of the covenant, 
gathering into himself the several attributes of 
God, for in him mercy and truth met together, 
and righteousness and peace embraced and kissed 
each other. In him alone will God now be seen, 
God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. 
He reaches out his atonement from earth to 
heaven, and spans the height of God's sovereign- 
ty with its mighty arch. He it is who makes the 
covenant of God a covenant of redemption, and 
changes the seat of judgment to a mercy seat. 
In the rainbow of the covenant then, behold the 
atonement of your Redeemer, and adore the God 
incarnate, who was manifested to take away our 

Again — As the rainbow stands like two radi- 
ant columns upon the earth, yet reaches its crown 
up to the skies, so does the covenant join our 
human hopes with the glory of heaven. It is a 


celestial band of many colours. It is strong with 
its seven-fold cords of holiness, justice, truth, 
love, wisdom, authority and power — strong 
enough to sustain the weight of a world's salva- 
tion. There is no condition too abject to be 
relieved by this heaven-descended mercy. It 
drops its bright lines of comfort along the hill- 
sides, and into the depths of the lowliest vale of 
human life. It sheds the consolations of God in 
Christ into the soul of the humblest child of the 
earth. It is no arrogance now for the most un- 
worthy to aspire to a place with God. In the 
mysterious person of Jesus, there was such a 
union of the Divine with the human ; God incor- 
porating himself with man in a joint and common 
life, that while we stand amazed at the phenome- 
non, we learn that it is just as possible for man 
to inherit God as it was for God to become a 
man. We learn that no height of glory is inac- 
cessible to him who mounts up by the covenant. 
We are comforted to think that we, standing 
here upon the footstool, may look up to the 
throne. We need not say. Who shall ascend up 
into heaven, that is, to bring Christ down from 
above — or who shall descend into the deep, that 
is, to bring up Christ again from the dead ? Joined 
to the covenant Emanuel, we are one with 
him as he is one with God, and because he lives, 


we shall live also. Let no Christian then des- 
pond in surveying the loftiness of his destiny. 
Stand amazed, indeed, at the mighty stoop of 
that majesty which bends over your sinful head 
the bow of promise ; but do not mistrust the 
mercy, for Christ is in that bow, and all the pro- 
mises are yea and amen in him. Moreover, as 
the rainbow in its circuit may span the whole 
horizon, so is the covenanted mercy of God free 
to whomsoever will. As there is no realm on 
which the sun does not shine, no region of atmos- 
phere where its beams are not broken up and 
reflected in the beauty of the bow in the clouds, 
so there is no nation of sinners, and no latitude 
of iniquity to which the covenant does not offer 
peace through Christ Jesus. 

He came to be the propitiation, not only for 
our sins, but for the sins of the whole world. 
His blood cleanseth from all sin. The invitation 
of his mercy is to all. " Look unto me and be 
saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, 
and there is none else." '' Ho, every one that 
thirsteth, come ye unto the waters, and he that 
hath no money, come ye, buy and eat." " And 
the Spirit and the bride say. Come, and let 
him that heareth say. Come, and whosoever 
will, let him take the waters of life freely." But 
let us not pervert the freeness of mercy. We 


would, above all things, impress you with the 
truth that it is the mercy of a coA^enant. 

We are not to argue that because this grace 
is so large, it is unconditional. God is indeed re- 
conciling the world to himself, but only in Christ. 
He is able to save to the uttermost all those, but 
only those, who come unto God by him. The 
whole work of redemption is transacted by the 
one mediator between God and man, the man 
Christ Jesus. The whole Divine authority of 
pardon and peace is transferred to him, so that 
there is no other name given under heaven 
among men whereby we can be saved. He is 
the agent of the covenant, the ambassador of 

We may dislike the terms he proposes, we 
may resist the demands he makes. We may re- 
fuse to come to his cross to be saved, as guilty 
and ill-deserving creatures. We may scorn the 
absurdity of being saved by the merits of another, 
clothed in a righteousness that is not our own, 
and hidden, as it were, from the searching eye 
in the depths of a Saviour's sacrificial worth. 
But if we do so, we delude ourselves. God will 
transact no business with men, but through his 
authorized mediator. Every communication from 
him to us, is onl}^ through Christ, and for his 
sake. Every petition and ajjpeal from us to him, 


must pass through the mediator's hand, and be 
signed with his cross and blood, before it can 
reach the eye of the King of kings. No prayer 
is answered from the court of glory, unless it be 
seconded by the silent intercession of Christ, 
showing his hands and side to intimate, " Father, 
I will." "Let it be done." If there be mercy 
with God, Jesus is the day-spring from on high, 
whereby that mercy hath visited us. If God be 
love, yet in this is the love of God manifested by 
giving his Son, that whosoever believeth in him 
should have life, and he alone. I do not say he 
could not otherwise show mercy, but human 
reason sees no way without infringing his justice 
or his truth ; and I do say, with stiU more assur- 
ance, that he has not only told us of none, but 
has declared there is no other name whereby we 
can be saved but the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 
Trust not then to an uncovenanted mercy. Be- 
ware of an absolute God. Rely not on the un- 
pledged attributes, but the promise. Behold him 
not upon the throne, but in the rainbow. Behold 
him in Christ, and be saved, for God out of 
Christ is a consuming fire. 

Once more, our attention is attracted to the 
description of the rainbow given in the text, "It 
was in sight hke an emerald." By this I under- 
stand that, amid the beauty of its joint colours, 


there was the prevailing hue of the emerald, re- 
freshing always to human eyes, like the colours 
of the forest and the field, and showing in that 
bow the evergreen of the covenant. 

When everything else is changing, the cove- 
nant of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, 
"the Lord knoweth them that are his." All out- 
ward dependencies may fail, but God keepeth 
covenant and mercy forever. His unwasting life, 
fresh and almighty as it was in the back ages of 
infinitude, is signified in the title by which he 
used to enter into covenant Avith his servants, 
"I am that I am." The constant vigour of the 
covenant is confirmed by the sanction of God's 
life on which it is built. Since he could swear 
by no greater, he swore by himself, "As I live, 
saith the Lord." How cheering is it to the fluc- 
tuating feelings of the child of God, to think of 
this evergreen life of the covenant of grace! 
When the whole firmament besides is torn by 
the storm, when a sombre, forbidding hue is over- 
casting the sky and the earth, as if its black 
doom were about to come; then he turns towards 
the bow in the cloud, and its hallowed light, be- 
tokening peace amid the tumult, shows that it is 
from God. And his life is hid in God because 
he is joined to Christ. And when he has wan- 
dered from the straight path, and fallen into 


forbidden ways, and begins at length to think of 
returning to his God, it is an encouragement to his 
weakness to remember that the covenant standeth 
sure. His own altered feelings might lead him 
to suspect his Father's clemency. But the 
promise is perpetual, and the covenant is everlast- 
ing in its green beauty. " If we believe not, yet 
he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself." 
The backsliding Israel may be healed. The prodi- 
gal child may return to his father's house and be 
received with sumptuous rejoicings, for the eternal 
God is his refuge, and his loving-kindness he will 
not utterly take from him, nor suffer his faithful- 
ness to fail. Dear brethren, let us love this ever- 
lasting covenant. Let our piety be as fresh and 
evergreen as the emerald of the rainbow. There 
are indeed intermissions in our comforts. There 
are times when the bow does not appear. But 
in the sunny hours, when the light of God's 
countenance fills the whole firmament, we feel 
less need of the special comfort of the covenant. 
It is in the darkness of our overcast souls that 
we want a comforter and a hope. Whenever 
then you are most cast down, whenever the storm 
beats hardest, whenever you are most disturbed 
by griefs or sins; in the hour of your pecuHar 
need, you will find the covenant nearest. The 
sun will break through the cloud of trouble, and 


on the black bosom of the receding tempest, you 
will see the mild light of your covenant God and 
Redeemer, and that light will be like a voice to 
your spirit, "Fear not, I will never leave thee 
nor forsake thee." 

Let us remember, moreover, that as the cove- 
nant makes God our own, so likewise it binds us 
and ours to him. I entered into covenant with 
thee, he says, and thou becamest mine. In the 
solemn act of our union with the Saviour, we 
renounced all other righteousness and mentioned 
his alone. We forsook all other gods, and chose 
him to be our portion, all other masters to live 
to Him who died for us and rose again. Let the 
green hue of the rainbow typify our faithfulness 
as well as his, and whenever we resort to the 
covenant for its blessing, let it be with a spirit 
as willing as that which we implore. When we 
ask God to be faithful, let us be ready to renew 
our own dedication, "Here Lord, I give myself 



John iii. 14, 15. 

" As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so 
MUST the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believ- 


Our subject to-day is an exhibition of the 
scheme of salvation and eternal life. Christ and 
his cross are all our theme. We are to compress 
into this brief half-hour the consideration of 
that plan which was conceived in eternity, and 
ripened by the growth of centuries. We are to 
declare the message which, the apostle says, is 
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus died 
to save sinners. It is an ancient story, famihar 
to you as a tale thrice told. It has been pro- 
claimed to many thousands of perishing creatures, 
and although it speaks only of love without mix- 
ture, of mercy without solicitation, and of salva- 
tion without price, it has been rejected to the 
condemnation of very many whom it was meant 
to save. A stumbhng block to the Jew, and all 



who are slaves to the Jewish pride, foolishness 
to the learned and witty Greek, whether found 
in Europe or America; our doctrine by them and 
such as they, has been slighted, as if it were of 
no import, scorned as if it were contemptible, or 
trampled under foot as if it were odious and hos- 
tile. Yet it is both the power and the wisdom 
of God, combined for the salvation of sinners, 
and God has chosen it as his instrumentality 
to reclaim an apostate world. Moreover, it is 
the savour both of life and of death, to those who 
hear it. There is garnered up in it a redeeming 
wealth and power to buy you from perdition, 
and there is given to it a weight which makes 
your downfall heavier if ye despise or reject it. 
This doctrine of Christ and his cross always tes- 
tifies for God and contrary to the sinner, so that 
at the judgment day it will be a swift witness 
against the impenitent, and it had been better 
for him then never to have known the way of 
righteousness ; and the unevangehzed will have 
a better lot than he. I have plied the arguments 
of this great doctrine so often; we have stood 
upon this corner-stone of all saving truth so long 
in your presence; I have lifted up so unwear- 
iedly this cross, all stained with hallowed blood, 
that I am not without a misgiving lest some 
should be gospel-hardened, and should tiu'n your 


ears away in disrelish of this familiar truth. 
But it is not one blow of the hammer that always 
breaks the flinty rock, and the minister must con- 
tent himself to urge line upon line, precept upon 
precept, in the hope that by and bye there may be 
a displacement of some sinful prejudice, the crush- 
ing of some guilty passion, the yielding of some 
old indifference, until the whole heart of stone 
shall be broken, and the fountain of penitential 
tears shall gush out. Therefore it is, when the 
minister pleads with your souls, and so often tells 
you of Jesus Christ and him crucified, because 
he knows it is heaven's mighty implement of 
truth, that he is nerved to our work week by 
week. He is not wearied in striving to save you, 
because he hopes that ye may yet be saved. 
And since, if ye are ever saved, there must be 
some ministration of truth to save jou, I call 
upon you, fellow Christians, to pray fervently, 
w^hile I speak, that I may not speak in vain or 
worse than in vain. It may be that this half 
hour may date the immortal bliss of some soul 
now without all hope. 

The words of the text were originally spoken 
to Nicodemus, the Jewish ruler, when he came 
to Jesus, and they held their memorable even- 
ing's conversation on the subject of the new birth 
of the soul. It was a strange doctrine to the 



Jew, and he demanded, ^'IIow can these things 
be ?" The Saviour explained the matter, pointed 
out the method of regeneration, and preached to 
him the cross, the doctrine that was afterward 
like a firebrand thrown into the midst of the 
Jewish Church. He exhibited himself as the aton- 
ing sacrifice for human guilt, declaring that, " As 
Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, 
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that 
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life.' 

The text contains an allusion to an historical 
event recorded in the book of Numbers, and since 
that event of the Old Testament is cited to ex- 
plain the doctrine of the new, we will advert to it. 

In the 21st chapter of that book, from the 6th 
to the 8th verse, the account is written as follows : 
"And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the 
people, and they bit the people ; and much peoj)le 
of Israel died. Therefore the people came to 
Moses and said, We have sinned, for Ave have 
spoken against the Lord and against thee ; pray 
unto the Lord that he take away the serpents 
from us; and Moses prayed for the people. And 
the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery ser- 
pent, and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to 
pass that every one that is bitten, when he look- 
eth upon it, shall live." 


There is a difference of opinion whether this 
transaction was arranged by Jehovah to be typi- 
cal of the gospel or not; and whether or not the 
minds of those punished Israelites beheld in the 
brazen serpent an emblem of the Saviour lifted 
up upon the cross. 

But it is a question we need not consider. 
Whether that transaction was designed to pre- 
figure salvation by Christ, or the resemblance 
was afterward discovered, it is at least true that 
a resemblance there is. The Saviour himself 
has drawn the parallel. He has compared him- 
self to the brazen serpent, and has made it sure 
that the salvation of sinners must be effected in 
a manner analogous to the healing of the bitten 
Israelites. I know not how there can be any 
dispute here. I know not how the abettors of any 
peculiar systems of doctrine, who will believe 
the simple words of Christ, can deny that what 
the monumental serpent was to that ruined camp, 
such is Christ to the wretched host of transgres- 
sors. I shall attempt, in this discourse, to show 
you how closely the parallel runs, and although 
I cannot, in our allotted space, enforce the sever- 
al topics, by all the evidence that crowds about 
the subject, yet I shall endeavour to leave you 
impressed Avith three truths, all of them implied 
in the text^ aU of them scriptural, and all of them 


highly important to your choicest and everlasting 

The first of these is the picture of human sin- 
fulness as it is illustrated in the condition of these 
distressed and dying Israelites. If the atone- 
ment of the cross is effectual to the sinner in the 
same manner that the brazen serpent was to 
those sick and dying men, then we may infer 
that the sinner's condition without an atonement 
is much like theirs without the divinely appointed 

And what think ye, my brethren, w^as their 
condition? We might make large drafts upon 
our imagination, and not frame to our minds an 
adequate conception of its horrors. But you 
must remember they were encamped in the wil- 
derness, and their camp w\as invaded and beset 
by venomous reptiles. And this w\as in con- 
sequence of their rebellion against God. They 
had no defence nor protection. The serpent 
might spring upon them from his coil as they 
walked near his thicket. He might crawl be- 
neath the folds of their tents, while they were 
lying in their easy slumbers, and plant his fangs 
in their flesh, and as the wound and the smart 
awoke them, their enemy had gUded away, and 
him they could not kill, but his venom they re- 
tained. Multitudes were bitten and diseased by 


these subtle destroyers, and the serpents' bites 
were as when a pestilence comes. On every 
side you might have seen men gasping and heav- 
ing in the last mortal struggle. The angry pois- 
on was foaming in every artery and vein, and 
running along the capillaries of the smallest fibres. 
The system was surcharged and swollen with the 
elements of death. It is a hideous conception 
of human suffering, but you know how quickly 
and terribly a rattlesnake's bite causes a man to 
stagger blind and bloated into his grave. 

We are startled when Jesus Christ intimates 
that sinners are so poisoned by the moral venom 
of that arch serpent Satan. But let not the qualms 
of sensibility or an injured self-complacency for- 
bid us to gaze right at the living truth. Let us 
muster our courage to encounter this vision, and 
I pray God, that when ye see your danger, ye 
will long to hear of the remedy we shall present- 
ly tell you of. 

The truth of the Saviour's analogy then obhges 
us to believe that men have been sorely bitten. 
They would rebel against God, and so God left 
them to the invasion of their enemy. He as- 
saults 3^ou in your public walk — rushing at you 
unawares when you think not of him, and so, by 
some overpowering lust, he destroys you; or else 
he glides out into your path, bites your heel, and 


makes you stumble and fall into some secret sin. 
And he creeps into your habitation, and there he 
destroys you by too much delight in other than 
God. Yes, and the Christian knows right well 
that even in the sacred privacy of his closet, 
when he thinks himself alone wdth God, there, 
at his very side, is the serpent coiled up w^ith his 
glistening eye and ready fang, to fascinate him 
wdth spiritual pride and worldly desires, or 
wound him with blasphemous thoughts. You 
know the Scriptures well enough to know I do 
not speak extravagantly, when I say the human 
race is poisoned ; that sin has struck its fangs 
into the moral nature of man, and planted its 
drop of venom in the soul, and that drop is sub- 
divided, and transfused through all the channels 
of moral feeling and affection, so that every son 
and daughter of Adam have inherited this tainted 
nature. Do they not love other things than 
those sacred and spiritual objects w^hich Adam 
loved before he fell into sin? Is not the con- 
science, wdiich is the eye of the soul, so bleared 
and blinded that they fail to note and follow 
the will of God, calling good evil and evil good? 
Are not their hearts swollen with pride, envy 
and ambition, and their souls fascinated with the 
glitter of pomp and fantastic fashion, and rich 
display, and lulled with the music of reputation, 


just as men, who are charmed by a serpent, are 
said to see bright colours and hear sweet sounds? 
And are not some giddy with prosperity or the 
hope of being prosperous? Just so the brain 
reels in a sort of delirium, when the serpent has 
bitten a man and the poison floats up into the 

Indeed, my brethren, if ye will be content 
with God's solemn word, we may say, The whole 
head is sick and the whole heart is faint; and 
from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot 
there is no soundness in man's moral constitution. 
The whole world lieth in wickedness, and, of the 
unregenerate and uncured, there is none that 
doeth good, no, not one. The moral exercises of 
such men are evil continually, and so desperate is 
their condition by nature, that the Scriptures 
do not scruple even to say. They are dead in 
their trespasses and sins. 

This teaching, so mournful, of the Holy Ghost 
has been echoed too, very mournfully, by the 
experience of men like us, and yet, perchance, 
better men than any of us. The long-drawn 
sound of Christian conviction has reached us 
from afar, even from the first ages of the church, 
and has put words into our mouths to use when- 
ever we draw near to God; and as you and I 
bow down here together and speak to our Father 


in heaven, and confess there is no health in us, 
what do we say but that we are diseased and 
poisoned by sin? The truth is, the old serpent 
has bitten us all. You may not love to acknow- 
ledge it, when you are so plainly charged with 
it, but 3^ou sometimes give an unsuspecting evi- 
dence that you believe it nevertheless. For you 
make laws against the outworkings of human 
corruption; you have bonds and sureties, and 
notes of hand, and bolts and bars, and prison- 
houses, and sheriffs, and men of war. Why is 
all this, if it be not because you cannot trust 
your neighbour ? Why, if you do not believe in 
human depravity? 

Nay, those who are not so orthodox as you 
are, have acknowledged it. Even the sagacious 
infidel, as he deems himself, who would fain 
sweep away this .everlasting record of God's 
truth, the Biblef^i3ecause he thinks it light as a 
cobweb, a tissue of absurdities, the chief absurdity 
of which is the doctrine of man's corruption, even 
he has fairly recognized the truth which lies at 
the threshold of salvation by Christ. Has not 
Infidelity's most philosophic champion, Jeremy 
Bentham, in his system, which is the only infi- 
delity of modern times that can be called phi- 
losophy, because there is none so thorough and 
consistent, and compact and large — has he not, in 


almost this precise phrase, declared that mankind 
are prone to every kind of vice; and, for that 
reason, constructed a system of ethics in order to 
disenthrall the world of its incumhent iniquity? 
And Bentham wrote by the light of all history, 
when he declared men are wicked in grain. For 
I might challenge you to show the spot on the 
shaded surface of human story which is a spot 
of pure brightness, except in the memoirs of 
Jesus Christ, the Divine man. 

But, my brethren, do you candidly think there 
is a soul with us here to-day which has not been 
bitten ? I do not charge you with being idolaters, 
robbers, adulterers, murderers ; I must find my 
audience elsewhere when I would lead such men 
to Christ. But to the man of shining morals, and 
amiable temper, and lofty deportment, and withal 
of a clear intelligence, such as this assembly em- 
braces, the question is, whether you are not by 
nature unholy. If, instead of the testimony of 
men, you would seek a better knowledge ; if you 
would remove that tissue of gentle manners 
which hides you from the world, and the self- 
complacency that veils you from 3^ourself, and 
just suffer a stream of light that beams from 
Jehovah's great law to radiate your conscience ; 
would you lift up your head from that inward sur- 
vey and say the serpent had not poisoned you? 


^^y^ yo^ would sing another strain. You 
would cry, " I am shapen in iniquity." You would 
look fearfully up to the Holy God and say, as a 
man said, who was thought righteous in his day, 
'• I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, 
but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor 
myself and repent in dust and ashes." You 
would see "that hideous sight, a naked human 
heart;" and while you felt the poison flowing 
along with every pulse of your soul, you would 
cry out, "^What shall I do to be saved?' The 
serpent is upon me. I shall die of liis venom ! 
Oh! is there no cure?" 

Yes, dear brethren, a cure there is — ^bless God 
for it — " for as Moses lifted up the serpent in the 
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted 
up, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life." 

And this brings us to the second of the three 
topics we were to examine here, and, having 
surveyed the condition of sinful men, let us ex- 
amine the remedy which God proposes to ciu'e 
us withal. The remedy of the serpent's bite, 
you remember, was a serpent. That which had 
poisoned the Israelites was the same which con- 
veyed the cure ; and so it was and is with sin. 
Man s sin was the venom, and so a man brought 
the healing. The first Adajn destroyed us, and 


the second Adam, which is Christ, gave us new 
sj^iritual and immortal life; and "as by man 
came death, by man came also the resurrection 
from the dead." "As judgment came by one 
unto condemnation, so the free gift came by one, 
even Christ, unto justification of life." 

Now we do not know why Jehovah chose to 
cure a serpent's bite by means of another serpent. 
We cannot tell what special fitness there was in 
making the destroyer defeat himself. For aught 
that we can see, it had been quite as easy and 
quite as beautiful, if God had silently sent into 
those sick bodies a new stock of the principle of 
life, and so helped the restorative power of nature 
to throw off the poison. The labour and pains 
of preparing the similitude of a serpent might 
have been spared, and the pomp of this public 
display might as well have been omitted, perhaps, 
some think. 

Yet God deemed otherwise. It seemed good 
to the councils of heaven to determine that the 
cure should proceed in this manner, and in no 
other, so that if any self-sufficient Israelite, who 
was insensible to his danger, had ventured to 
demur at such a method of cure, he had lost his 
life as surely as if God had shut up his ear 
against the pleadings of the people, and refused 
them aU relief. It is in this same wav that 


some people think and speak of Jesus Christ and 
his salvation. They cannot understand why 
Jehovah could not pardon sin and heal the sinner, 
without an atonement as well as by an atone- 
ment. ^'Is he not merciful?" say they; "where 
then lies the necessity of this profuse expendi- 
ture of suffering, this pomp of Sjacrifice, this 
blood-shedding and death ? Could not God speak 
a life-giving word to the sinner, saying, ' Thy sins 
are forgiven thee, be healed and live forever;' if 
he could do so, would he not? I am displeased 
with such a method." 

It is not my purpose to defend the method, 
and attempt to show why heaven adopted it, 
but only to say it is heaven's own method ; and 
God has decreed that, since the sin came by a 
man, salvation should come by a man; neither is 
there salvation in any other than he. Where- 
fore, if there be a guilty and sin-poisoned soul in 
this presence, who feels so little the wretchedness 
of his condition that he can cavil at the plan of 
salvation by the cross, while he may claim our 
Christian pity, I have nothing to answer to his 
cavils but " Thus saith the Lord, there is no other 
name given under heaven among men whereby 
ye can be saved, than the name of Jesus of 
Nazareth;" and the inference is, that if you 
reject God's method of showing mercy, you arc 


as surely ruined as if mercy were not one of 
heaven's attributes. 

But there is another pecuharity in the case, 
which comes before us while we are considering 
this remedy for the serpent's bite, and belongs 
equally to the redemption by Christ. 

There was nothing in the substance from 
which that serpent was shaped that had the 
power of healing. Even though it had not a 
venomous nature, we can all perceive there was 
nothing in the serpent's dead form which could 
cure a living serpent's bite. And yet there 
flowed out of it such healthful influences that 
the man who believed God's word, and looked 
upwards to that lifted piece of brass, found him- 
self restored and w^ell. 

The explanation of the matter is, God sent 
down a Divine quality to charge and fill that 
lifeless effigy of brass, so that the serpent on the 
pole was to all that people as if it were God; 
and so God cured them by the serpent's form. 

Now we see the same thing exemplified in 
Jesus Christ. It was not possible that man could 
atone for man. What is human blood more than 
the blood of bulls and goats, which can never 
take away sin? What inherent power is there 
in humanity to meet the perfect demands of the 
divine law? How can a creature have such 


superfluous excellence that he shall make amends 
for all the sins of all his fellow-creatures in all 
time ? There would haA^e been no healing power 
for sin in the man who was lifted up on the cross 
if he had not been a Divine man. It wanted 
something to be superadded to his humanity, and 
so the Deity became himself incarnate; and 
when Ave look upon the person who was crucified 
for sin, if we look with a true faith we behold 
not simply a man like common men, nor even a 
man wdiose nature was pure and innocent, and 
without venom, but upon a man in whose flesh 
was tabernacled all the living energy of God; 
and that energy flows out into the believer's 
soul, and heals and saves him from his sins. 

Very great is this mystery of godliness ; God 
manifested in the flesh, seen of angels, believed 
on in the world, received up into glory. But if 
you let its mystery stagger you, so that you re- 
fuse to look to Ilim that is lifted up, I must 
repeat it, that you cannot be saved, for if they 
escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, 
much more shall not ye escape if ye refuse llini 
who speaketh from heaven. 

lie is lifted up before you to-day, as it were 
visibly crucified for you, and I desire to prevail 
with you by the virulence of that sin wherewith 
you are poisoned, by the agonies of that death 


that follows unforgiven sin, by all that is so 
delightful in the healing of Christ's blood, and 
by all that is free, gracious and easy in the ap- 
plication of the remedy, I desire to prevail ^Yith 
you that you may be saved. 

But our subject is not fully surveyed until I 
have spoken more of the ease with wdiich the 
remedy is applied — the topic just glanced at. 

And this is our third topic. The Israelites 
were cured by a look at the brazen serpent. 
" It came to j)ass if a serpent had bitten any man, 
when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived" — 
and just like this is the sinner's justification by 
faith in Jesus Christ. The prophet knew it, 
when, in the vision of the future Saviour, he 
cried, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the 
ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is 
none else." And the Evangelist, when he said, 
'* To as many as received him, to them gave he 
power to become the sons of God, even to them 
that believe on his name." And faith is a cor- 
dial acquiescence in God's appointed w^ay of 
salvation. It is the submission of the heart to 
Christ. It is the casting one's self down at his 
feet, as the only helper. Faith does not consist 
in the multitude of prayers, nor in the solemn 
determination to strive to grow better, nor in 
fervid desires to be a child of God, nor in the 


hatred of sin, nor in the strong cryings and tears, 
nor in a broken heart. It consists not in any 
thing you can do or suffer — but in just ceasing 
to do anything, and trusting to Jesus Christ to 
do all. 

What could the Israelite do for his own resto- 
ration? Could he purge out of his system the 
infection of the serpent's tooth by resolving to 
do so? Could he cure his sickness by weeping? 
Did the poison rage less because he writhed and 
groaned under its pains ? Could he save himself 
from dying because he had a fervent desire to 
live? No! his alternative was to trust to the 
Divine remedy, and suffer God to save him, or to 
die. And from the utmost limit of the Israelit- 
ish camp, whosoever turned upon the brazen 
serpent a single look of trust and hope was healed. 
No matter what the stage or degree of his sick- 
ness, he was healed. It was a mighty salvation. 

Just behold the swollen limbs, and the parched 
tongue, and the glaring eyeballs, of those poisoned 
men. Listen to the incoherent ravings of deli- 
rium. See those mothers, absolutely brutalized 
by pain, casting down their infants to the ground, 
and pining away with the anguish of the ser- 
pent's tooth; and the babes themselves gasping 
with the agonies of tlie mortal infection. The 
whole camp is crowded, like a field of battle, 
with the dying and the dead. All at once a 


loud cry is heard. God has provided a remedy. 
In the sight of the whole camp a brazen serpent 
is lifted up on high One single look, and the 
cure was finished. 

The distended limbs shrink to the dimensions 
of health. The eye regains its lustre. The mad- 
dened brain is cooled into quiet. A new life 
darts through the frame, and the restored man 
rushes to his feet, and flies eagerly to bring some 
dying friend within view of this conveyancer of 
life; and the mother's instinct is strong again, 
and she snatches up her offcast babe, and flies to 
hold it up before the brazen serpent of salvation. 

Dear brethren, why may not this scene of res- 
cue and rejoicing be re-enacted in this house of God 
to-day? Can you doubt whether you have been 
pierced and sickened by the tooth of sin? Can 
you doubt whether your souls are ruined? If 
not, then the value and power of the remedy you 
dare not doubt. It is the life-blood of God's 
dear Son. 

The manner of its application need not startle 
you. Thousands have made trial of it and are 
healed ; and they are now rejoicing with their 
souls' restored health, and a conscience at peace 
with God. They would gladly bear you in their 
arms to the cross, that you might look upon the 
Saviour and live. Eenewed you must be, or you 
will die. You may be renewed here and now, hy 


casting yourselves upon the merits and mercy of 
Jesus Christ." He will cleanse you from your 
guilt, and procure all your salvation. It is his 
own truth, and the substance of Divine revelation, 
^'He that believeth shall be saved, and he that 
believe th not shall be damned." 

If I should preach to you the word for years, 
I can tell you of no new doctrine of life, no other 
cure for sin. If I should spend all my days with 
you, ministering to your souls, and follow you to 
your dying chambers one by one, and stand over 
you as you breathed out your life ; or if I should 
be called to go before you into eternity, and 
should give to my beloved flock a pastor's dying 
testimony, I could tell you only of that by which 
I hope to be saved — the cross of Christ. As a 
dying man speaking to dying men, I could only 
lift up my voice, and say to you, "As Moses 
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so 
must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever 
believeth in him might not perish, but have ever- 
lasting life." 

And so would I lift up my voice to-day, and 
witH a more than usual impression of eternity on 
my mind, I would speak to dymg men, and offer 
to you, in God's name, a free and instantaneous 
mercy and forgiveness. How can ye escape, 
dear friends, if ye neglect so great salvation ? 




Acts xi. 18. 

" They glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the 
Gentiles granted repentance unto life." 

Of all the gifts of God to men, of all benefits, 
great or small, perhaps we could not name a 
single one which the world at large holds in 
such light esteem, as the precise one spoken of 
in the text, '^ Repentance." 

Nothing on earth that can be called a privilege, 
seems, to the large class of the unspiritual, to 
come in so questionable a shape, nothing for which 
they feel less disposed to thank God. 

There are gifts whose sweetness is so much 
upon the surface that their first taste is pleasant. 
There are blessings laid at our very thresholds, 
and as we stumble against them the shock of our 
surprise extorts a sudden acknowledgment of the 
goodness of God. (9^) 


And then there are moods of mind so simply 
peaceful, so unmixed with anxiety, that all men 
agree to call them joyful. 

It is to such a condition, that men in general 
refer when you speak of privileges from heaven. 
But they never enter upon their catalogue of 
favours that state of mind which is designated in 
the text. 

And this fact reveals the opposition between 
nature and grace, of w^hich the apostle speaks, 
when he declares that the natural man under- 
standeth not the things of the Spirit of God ; 
for a heaven-taught mind thanks God for repen- 
tance as a boon. 

The w^ords of the text were the unanimous 
utterance of the Church in Judea, when they 
heard from St. Peter the story of the conversion 
of Cornelius. Strange as it may seem to unac- 
customed ears, and unsanctified hearts, we must 
remember, my brethren, that they uttered the 
language of Christian experience. They spoke 
what they did know, and testified what they had 
felt. They were recently come from the trial of 
their own souls ; they remembered the wormwood 
and gall of blood-guiltiness against the Son of 
God. The echo of that universal cry, " Men and 
brethren, what shall we do," had hardly yet 
died away. Their spuits were yet fresh from 


the Pentecostal baptism; and they understood 
the SAveetness of penitence inspired by the Holy 
Ghost; a special grant of favour from God. 

Let us take their experience as our authority, 
and endeavour to elucidate the force of their ex- 
pression. Before the annual season of our 
humiliation shall pass away, let us endeavour to 
learn more of its value. We will, therefore, un- 
dertake to illustrate this truth from several dis- 
tinct considerations. 

1st. Since repentance implies transgression; 
since the sorrow for sin, like all other sorrow, is 
itself a pain ; since amendment is a tacit acknow- 
ledgment of past fault; it may seem almost para- 
doxical to say that repentance is a privilege, 
when contrasted with a state of innocence. Is 
not he happier who has never stained his soul 
with impurity, than one who has been steeped 
in pollution, even though he afterwards emerge 
from his baseness and sin no more ? 

Is not a state of perfect sinfulness so high re- 
moved from any condition of guilt, as to outgo 
all comparison of privilege ? 

When viewed in the abstract, apart from the 
circumstances of our condition, there seems to be 
a convincing force in the very statement of the 
question. For besides the demerit of transgres- 
sion, as sin against God, there is the contamiua'- 


tion it entails. And we cannot say how low its 
connections may descend. We cannot tell how 
deejD is the pedigree of baseness to which a man 
allies himself when he joins his soul to a sin. It 
may be that the familiarity with degradation 
shall disqualify him forever for the highest 
purity. It may be that the breathing the 
atmosphere of wickedness may have tainted the 
life of his spirit beyond all purgation. The very 
contact with guiltiness may have infected his 
nature with an ill savour that shaU chng to it 
always. It may be that one single transgression 
shall be like a weight to his feet, making his 
career of improvement lame and halting forever. 

The shock of one sin may have so disturbed 
the harmony of his nature, and broken some of 
the affinities of virtue, that they shaU never be 

It may be very plausibly argued, therefore, that 
innocence is better than repentance, and that the 
mere childish ignorance of vice is better than the 
wisdom of reformed profligacy. 

If one should say that the sinlessness of Para- 
dise was too great a price to be paid for the 
knowledge of good and evil, and that Adam was 
overreached in the bargain, it would be venturing 
too much to deny it. And yet it is only when 
we look at the essential nature of morals that we 


can say so much, for it is only in the abstract 
view of the case that it is wholly true. But we 
are not to argue in the abstract. There are cir- 
cumstances in man's condition which present the 
subject in a different light. 

When we consider innocence as the require- 
ment of a system whose object was the preven- 
tion, and not the cure of sin; when we remember 
that innocence once violated, could not by that 
system be restored, the question comes to us 
with a very different meaning. The question 
then is not, " Which is preferable, innocence or 
repentance, freedom from sin or reformation 
after sin?" but, ^^Which system is best suited to 
the condition of man as a creature — one which 
requires unsinning obedience, but holds out no 
remedy for a fall; or that which, after man has 
fallen, lifts him tenderly up, heals his wounded 
and broken nature, and places him again on the 
track of a hopeful probation ?" So that the ques- 
tion results truly in this, " Which is the more 
favourable system for man, with all his liabilities, 
the Law, with its requirement of a perfect sinless- 
ness, or the Gospel, with its free invitation to 

To understand it better, let us view the state 
of the moral universe without such a system. 
Travel back to the period when creation was 


young; when over its wide bosom swept the 
freshness and beauty of a Divine touch, and it 
seemed glad Avith the reflection of Divinity; when 
the sons of God were glad in sympathy, and 
shouted for joy. Not a blemish marred its S3^m- 
metry. No malignant touch disturbed the har- 
mony of its laws. No footfall of the evil one had 
crushed a single plant of beauty, or trodden out 
the fragrance of a single flower. Neither had 
any moral mischief unveiled its ugliness, or 
stretched out its withering finger. Man was 
there, but as yet unsinning and pure. This is 
what we call his primeval innocence. His im- 
pulses were all accordant with the Divine will, 
and his nature in harmony with an untroubled 

But he was the subject of Law. There was 
one overruling condition on which his happiness 
and his life were suspended, and that was obe- 
dience. He was bound to give his supreme 
devotion, of body and mind and spirit, to his 
Father and Creator. Any departure from this 
law, a single act of sin, would instantly pervert 
his nature, destroy his peace, and distort his 
whole condition. Obedience, perfect obedience, 
would lead along his nature in an immortal ex- 
pansion of delight, and an endless progress of 
glory. Nearer and nearer to God would he 


approach in intenser communion of love with all 
holy and noble intelligences — his life would be 
more and more like a seraph's, and himself more 
like a son of God. Oh, how imagination revels 
upon this thought of the primeval capacity of our 
nature, and how freely she launches away into 
that realm of imagined innocence, with no leaden 
doubt to clog her wings, no reasoning to restrain 
her eagerness ! We can hardly be too bold in 
the conception of that perfect state. Picture it 
then as we please, adorn it with as many graces 
of perfection as we may, and set it before our 
minds at last, a blissful human state — the ques- 
tion is, "Was that state preferable to ours? 
Was Adam to be envied by us ? " At the first 
summons we may be ready to answer, "Yes." 
But let us ponder the reasons for a different 
reply. This condition had one vital want — 
security. It was liable to be too easily forfeited 
and lost. One act of disobedience would deprave 
and destroy the whole. The law of that life, 
beautiful in its purity, was nevertheless terrible 
for its inflexible authority. It was armed against 
transgression with all the awfulness of goodness. 
It could not hold a compromise with disobedience 
without disgracing its author. 

There was, therefore, no escape from the un- 
changeable alternative of perfection or destruc- 



tion. And you sec at once how this condition 
throws an uncertainty over the bright picture of 
this felicity of innocence. You see how the 
light comes tremulously from it, shining through 
that mist; and while we gaze upon it we tremble 
lest it should be clouded in total darkness. Now 
this was the inseparable danger of that state. 
From the very nature of law it might be broken. 
From the very nature of a moral agent he might 
break it. lie was liable to inducements of spirit 
and of body, which might become overpowering 
temptations. He had a power of choosing be- 
tween right and wrong, and while he had it, it 
was not within any human sagacity to be sure 
that he would not, in some idle moment, in the 
momentary excitement of some appetite, overstep 
the line of duty — turn away his face from heaven 
and fall. 

The power of sinning was necessary to his free 
agenc}^, and the power to sin is the twin sister 
of the liabiUty to sin. This was the constant 
drawback upon the privileges of his state. 

So long as he might sin; so long as he was 
(encompassed by circumstances which might con- 
troul, and invested with faculties that might 
deceive him, with appetites that might grow 
while he slept, and from being servants change 
themselves to masters; so long as the very idle- 


ness and repose of his felicity might beguile his 
soul into a sleepy forgetfulness of God ; in a word, 
so long as his nature was finite and capable of 
falling, there was cast over the beauty of his 
life a precarious shade, that makes us sad with 
the sense of its insecurity. And when to this 
uncertainty of obedience we add the inevitable 
doom of disobedience, how much of privilege 
seems to be taken from this state of innocence ! 
How perilous was the experiment of sinlessness ! 
How like a blind man's walk along the precipice 
seems this enterprise of life without repentance ! 
One step beyond the crumbling brink; one 
swaying of the frame from the upright balance 
of holiness; one casual, momentary thoughtless- 
ness might betray the soul to its ruin. Truly, 
while in the survey of man's original felicity we 
are impelled to adore the goodness of the Maker 
who fitted him for such bliss, we cannot but 
mourn in advance for the danger to which a finite 
nature is exposed, under any experiment of law. 
We naturally turn our gaze about to see if there 
be no easier conditions of bliss. We lift our 
eyes to heaven to humbly ask if this is man's 
irrevocable state. Must this dark omen forever 
overhang his life ? Must the sweet joys of his 
innocence be poisoned by this constant fear of 
perdition and the doom of disobedience? Is it 
both inevitable and hopeless ? 


Is there not a weight removed from our spirits 
when we admit the idea of repentance as a 
remedy for this evil ? Does not a light seem to 
break through the shadows of this uncertainty- 
like a sun-rising of mercy? How far better 
suited to our w\ants is the provision of pardon 
for sin, than would be the requirement of inno- 
cence, even if our natures Avere pure and our im- 
pulses holy ! 

Now, remember that what we have been sur- 
veying together as possible, is mournful matter 
of fact. The career and trial of innocence has 
been acted out once and again. The very dan- 
ger which we in imagination thought so formi- 
dable, has overwhelmed the creatures of two dis- 
tinct races with ruin. The angels ran the gaunt- 
let of that trial of innocence. They undertook 
the enterprise of a sinless obedience, and they 
fell from the top felicity of heaven. And if any 
man is inclined to murmur at the hard demand 
of repentance; if he should blame the arrange- 
ment which suffered him to inherit a sinfu 
nature, and to be betrayed into sin; if he should 
say, "Why was I not made upright, and placed 
under a system which would have required an obe- 
dience that I could then easily render?" — let him 
turn his eyes to the issue of that experiment of 
the seraphim. Think you that if a herald should 


proclaim to them the grant of repentance they 
would spurn it as an ofience ? If this were made 
the condition of their release, would they not 
seize it like creatures drowning in perdition ? If 
they could be permitted to name the privilege 
which they most craved, would not the pains of 
their long penalty, the Divine desertion, the 
fierce remembrance of their early joy, all combine 
in one burning wish that God would tr}^ them 
again, not on the ground of sinless perfection, but 
on the probation of a godly and broken-hearted 
repentance ? 

But they are not the only probationers whose 
history shows the precariousness of innocence. 
Our own race, in the person of its sire, has ven- 
tured upon the same trial of character, and every 
unrenewed creature of that race is yet labouring 
with its consequences in the aversion of his heart 
from God and the fear of his coming doom. And 
when you remember this, and picture to yourself 
the disastrous condition of a world without inno- 
cence and without a Saviour, would it not come 
hke a welcoming to the soul to be told of 
another probation for man ? Would not the offer 
of repentance seem like the dove and the olive 
branch, borne over the bosom of desolation which 
has drowned the world, bringing to a man's soul 
a promise and privilege ? 


I say not, brethren, that God preferred sin to 
innocence, but I call you to admire the ineffable 
wisdom which has made man's downfall the basis 
of his salvation. I pray you to adore the match- 
less skill which, out of the most forbidding evil, 
has educed the highest good. He has made the 
wrath of man to praise him. He has made our 
sin to be the feculent soil in which our best 
hopes root themselves and grow in immortal 
vigour. The condition of each one of us is this 
day more hopeful than if sin had never entered 
the world. We should be this day less blessed 
in the enjoyment of innocence without a Saviour, 
than we are with all our sins, but with the privi- 
lege of repentance. 




Acts xi. 18. 

" They glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the 
Gentiles granted repentance unto life. 

We have thus far endeavoured to show that re- 
pentance is a privilege, simply as a part of a 
more lenient system of government than the law; 
that the permission to be saved by repentance is 
more favourable to human nature and human 
hope, than the permission to be saved by an un- 
deviating innocence. 

Let us proceed to illustrate our subject farther, 
and show that repentance is a privilege, by con- 
sidering what repentance is, and what repentance 

Kepentance is a privilege, because it restores our 
fallen natures to the likeness of God, secures for- 
giveness, is a joy of itself, and terminates in glory. 
The very idea of repentance assumes the sinful- 



ness of our state. Sinfulness implies alienation 
from God. The moral image of God, originally 
stamped on the human heart, was effaced by the 
first transgression. When man fell to that con- 
dition which the Saviour touchingly describes as 
"lost/' there was a sad declension indeed from 
many inestimable privileges. But the noblest of 
them all was the intimacy of man with his 
Maker, the assimilation of affections and the one- 
ness of sympathy. The separation was scarcely 
more terrible in its foretold consequences, than 
it was painful to be contemplated. The palace- 
home in the human breast, which God once illu- 
minated with his presence, was now a deserted 
and blackened chamber, where only dark thoughts 
revelled, and dark deeds were hatched. The 
altar in the heart, where holy affections used to 
group themselves in adoring love, had become 
the seat of an evil spirit, who changed the pure 
feelings to vile affections, and turned the now 
deserted temple into a prison house of lust. 
This was the ruin of the fall. But repentance is 
restoration. When the Holy Spirit descends 
within the soul, and awakens it to repentance, 
the struggle that ensues is the conflict between 
God and the Evil One. That soul is to be the 
victor's trophy. And when the battle is over, 
and the repentance is complete, the face and 


form of that soul are changed. The heart is 
ilhiminated agam. The Deity has made his new 
home in the house now cleansed and garnished. 
The likeness of Christ is restored to it. '' Thus 
saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth 
eternity, I dwell in the high and holy place ; with 
him also that is of a contrite spirit, to revive the 
spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of 
the contrite ones." " I dwell in them and walk in 
them, and they shall be my people and I will be 
their God." 

It is the indwelling spirit of God which begets 
conformity of nature between man and his Maker. 
This conformity is threefold. There is in the 
(irst place a unity of will. What God from 
heaven decrees, God in the soul seconds and con- 
forms to God's expressed will, and becomes the 
rule of both the heart and life. The dispensa- 
tions of his providence, whether they bind him 
down with afflictions or lift him up with prosperi- 
ty, call out the glad consent of his will, to be, to 
do, or to suffer, whatsoever pleases the Most 
High. And next, there is the conformity of his 
desires, which, gushing out from their fountain in 
the regenerated heart, fall into the stream of 
the Divine pui'poses, and flow on, merged in per- 
fect unity and conformity with his heavenly will. 
The conscience, which is the school-master of 


our soul to bring us by the Divine law to Christ ; 
conscience repeats the voice of God, lays its rod 
upon our restive passions, spurs our sluggish 
feeling of duty, admonishes, excites, commends 
or reprimands, not from the hot suggestions of 
temptation, but from the Divine oracles and the 
promptings of the Holy Spirit. So that the 
soul sees, as with a divine eye; traces out the 
bearings of moral truth, and the consequences 
of moral acts by a heavenly light, weighs the 
value of moral principles and rules in the bal- 
ances of the sanctuary, and brings everything 
to the test of the Divine approbation. So the 
renewed mind has the mind of the Spirit. 

And, lastly, the affections, the faculties by 
which the heart loves and hates, which once ran 
in the chase of sin, but always stopped and started 
back in shivering recoil whenever religion crossed 
its track, they too are renewed. 

Formerly the loves of the heart were so low, 
that they were sometimes debased into lusts, but 
now their regenerated life reaches up to heaven. 
God is their noble object — a holy life their con- 
genial end. The penitent man is now on the 
same footing with the unfallen — a friend of God. 
He is a soldier in the army of Jesus Christ, a 
member of the family of heaven, a child of God, 
a partaker of his nature. 

Need I add anything to show that the repen- 


tance that confers such a dignity as this is a 
privilege? May I not make the appeal, not 
merely to the heavenly-minded, but to the unre- 
newed? Would not the most besotted sense 
perceive an exaltation in an alliance with the 
Great Being of the universe ? Is any heart so 
depraved from its original constitution as not to 
feel some lurking conviction, clinging to it like a 
half obliterated remembrance, that there is gran- 
deur in such a destiny as this? Even among 
the ruins of this broken temple of the soul, 
though dragons are in its pleasant places, is there 
not a lingering echo of the Divine oracles which 
testifies that to be admitted to Mount Zion, to 
the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusa- 
lem, and to the innumerable company of angels, 
and to the church of the first-born whose names 
are written in heaven, and to God the judge of 
all, and to Jesus the mediator of the new cove- 
nant, is a privilege ? 

Who shall say that repentance is not a privi- 
lege, which changes the darkened spirit and gives 
it hght from heaven, renews the decayed spirit 
with Divine life, purifies the polluted spirit with 
the power of holiness, lifts up the fallen spirit 
among the angels, in a word, transforms it into 
the image and likeness of God, and makes it a 
temple of the Holy Ghost? Such honour have 
all his saints. 


Thirdl}^ llepentance is a privilege because it 
brings forgiveness of sin. If 1 had followed in 
my remarks the natural order of succession, in 
which this subject and the last occur in the Divine 
plan, I should have spoken of forgiveness before I 
had mentioned conformity to God. For doubt- 
less in the Divine mind the act of pardon is ante- 
cedent to the full conveyance of those other 
privileges. But in the mind of the penitent him- 
self there is usually a consciousness of some of 
those renewed affections, even before he dares to 
trust that his sin will be forgiven. I have chosen, 
therefore, rather to follow the order of spiritual 
experience than of the Divine purposes. 

I say, therefore, that repentance is a rare pri- 
vilege, because it is the single chain let down 
from heaven by which we may climb and reach 
the hope of forgiveness. No act of grace could 
bring a lasting comfort to the soul, which was not 
founded on a pardoning decree. No guilty 
creature could ever enjoy security, even in his 
regeneration, with the remembrance of unatoned 
guilt. I cannot conceive how even immortality 
could be satisfying to a redeemed sinner, unless 
he could bind to his bosom the covenant of for- 
giveness, sealed with the blood of a finished atone- 
ment. It is unforgiven sin that separates be- 
tween the Christian and his God here on earth, 


and drives him into backsliding. The fear that 
our guilt is treasured up in God's memory, and 
stands unblotted in his book, casts down the 
soul into despondency. It breaks the wings of 
our devotion, and unnerves the whole frame of 
our piety. 

It is likewise the certainty of unforgiven sin, 
which creates the strong dislike, in the heart of 
an impenitent man, to the thought of God. He 
shuns the bright countenance because he knows 
it is unreconciled. He turns away from prayer, 
because prayer brings him face to face with his 
sins. He wdU not reflect, because reflection leads 
him forward to his last account. Sin unpardoned 
embitters his inward life, and adulterates every 
blessing, it arms death with its sting, and covers 
his eternity with a black pall. As sin is the 
enmity of the soul to God, so pardon is the slay- 
ing of that enmity. Sin is the wound of the 
soul, forgiveness is the healing. When you 
name the remission of sins that are past, there- 
fore, you name a privilege, fundamental to all 
other enjoyment, a privilege, too, whose value is 
enhanced by the difficulty of its attainment. For 
to one who w^eighs aright the true evil of sin, 
there is nothing so improbable as its forgiveness. 
Our once awakened conscience, clamouring for re- 
tribution, knows nothing of forgiveness. 


Conscience never pardons. Even in our re- 
generation she reproaches us with oiu' sins. Even 
when God's reconciled eye bends down in com- 
placency upon us, and we feel the thrill of that 
look darting through us, conscience is never ap- 
peased. Even in the flood of grateful jo}^ that 
bursts from the broken heart of a forgiven peni- 
tent, in the first assurance of mercy, w^hen he 
knows the wrath is averted and heaven is at one 
with him, conscience is at hand, probing him 
with new recollections of guilt, and admonishing 
him that he deserves no pardon. Conscience it 
is which often shuts up the offender in the de- 
spair of mercy, and which always increases the 
difficulty of apprehending the possibility of a 

Again, the law of God, to which the blindfold 
sinner always clings for salvation, while he 
spurns repentance as too hard a condition — that 
very law, by uttering no tones of mercy, renders 
that mere}'' more precious when it can be had. 
In this predicament of despair the olfending per- 
son is left convicted, self-condemned, inwardly 
punished, and fearfully looking for judgment and 
fiery indignation. And here descends the angel 
of mercy, with the grant of repentance for the 
remission of sins. No privilege on earth can 
match this oiler, of which neither his soul nor 


the whole world besides gave him any promise 
or suggestion. But repentance is the gateway 
of sah^ation, beginning with forgiveness. The 
plan of redemption opens itself before his mind. 
He sees how forgiveness is possible, because it 
was purchased. The atonement contradicts the 
verdict of his own conscience, and answers the 
demand of his sin-stricken soul. His repentance 
therefore involves an act of faith in his crucified 
Hedeemer. His worst sin has been unbelief and 
rejection of Christ; his first amendment will be 
the surrender of his soul to him in a covenant of 
peace. This is the sure result of evangelical re- 

Bearing in his hand the promise, he goes to 
the mercy seat and pleads the substituted right- 
eousness of his Saviour. That name always pre- 
vails. His blood has atoned. The condemna- 
tion is reversed, and the sinner bears away the 
pledge of the highest boon in the gift of God, 
the Divine forgiveness and forgetfulness of all his 
sinful life. But he will not forget. That hour 
of his repentance which drove him to the cross, 
and gave him back his forfeited life, shall never 
die out of his grateful remembrance. Its date is 
hallowed in his mind. Its periodical return will 
be a holy day. The attendant circumstances 
will be engraved upon his memory. The friend 


who persuaded liim, the affliction that aroused, 
the sermon that first broke the sleep of his im- 
penitence, will be embalmed in his most heaven- 
ly thoughts. It was the crisis of his destiny. It 
was an epoch in his soul's history that shall be 
luminous above other events among the remem- 
brances of his immortality. For its happy con- 
sequences shall live through eternal ages, and 
as the series travels on, the blessings of that for- 
giveness shall be as fresh and fruitful as immor- 
tality itself. lie will still look back with melt- 
ing of heart to that first forgiveness, and will 
thank God again who granted him the inestima- 
ble i)rivilege of repentance. 

Fourthly, I have somewhat anticipated the 
reflections of this branch of my discourse, by 
speaking of the emotions of a penitent heart. 

But I will add in the next place that repen- 
tance is a privilege, not only for what it brings, 
but for its own intrinsic sweetness. 

I do not speak now of the happiness of being 
forgiven, but of the satisfaction of repentance 
itself. I may seem to utter a hard saying, but 
Divine grace has explained it to many hearts, and 
can explain it to yours. When repentance is 
described as sorrow of heart, as conviction of 
conscience, as brokenness and contrition of spirit, 
when we observe it so often expressing itself by 


tears and sobs, or imperfectly cloaking its feelings 
beneath a sad and thoughtful countenance, it may 
seem to many to be an exercise of purest wretch- 
edness. And yet, if I mistake not, it creates a 
delight which many a Christian has endeavoured 
to reproduce in order to give pungency and force 
to his subsequent experience. In the act of peni- 
tence there are combined certain motions of the 
heart and mind, each of which confers a separate 
pleasure. In the very convictions of our con- 
science there is the satisfaction of discovered 

We have hitherto lived under the delusion of 
an ignorance of the most fatal sort. We have 
been blind to some of the first and highest truths 
of moral obligation. We have been unmindful 
of God, and thoughtless of eternity, and carelessly 
ignorant of ourselves. And wdien our minds are 
awakened to the survey of this circle of truths, 
whatever alarm they may excite, there is yet a 
deep and thoughtful satisfaction that our delusion 
is broken up. There is a conscious elevation of 
mind in discoursing with these mighty themes, that 
beggars the importance of our other knowledge. 
We seem to have been ushered into a new world 
of thought, and its momentous subjects engross 
the spirit. We stand before the throne" of God, 
we listen to the utterance of his mind, our own 


souls expand themselves to our contemplation 
till we are amazed and overwhelmed at the vast- 
ness of their destiny. Sin in its essential evil, 
God in his essential righteousness, are revealed 
so overpoweringly, that while we bow down and 
cry, " Unclean, unclean, God be merciful to me a 
sinner !" we would not exchange the triumph of 
that discovery for the highest bliss that could be 
purchased by its ignorance. Our repentance has 
taught us a love that human philosophy cannot 
fathom. I will add to this satisfaction the sweet- 
ness of sorrow for our wrong doing, joined with 
the pleasantness of reconciliation. Have you 
never known in an inferior way the joy of which 
1 speak ? Have you never been alienated from 
a friend, when some mutual misunderstanding 
has given mutual offence ? While the hard feel- 
ings of your nature were uppermost, you had no 
sweet pathos of emotion. But when your pride 
was quelled, and your resentment turned aside, 
and you made the noble resolution of apology, 
how the ice of your heart was thawed! The 
very purpose of reconciliation had a subduing 
joy, and when the friends met in mutual amity 
again, there Avas a gushing of tenderness which 
to its generous spirit is one of the most genial 
dehghts. And thus it is with a repentant 
sinner turning to his God and Saviour. The 


very purpose of repentance has melted down 
his soul, which was hard and unbending till he 
resolved to confess his sins. And now, in the 
mellowness of his emotions, you see him kneeling 
with tears and sobs in private communion with 
God. He confesses all — he lays bare his very 
heart. He takes a noble and generous satisfac- 
tion in doing justice to his injured friend and 
Saviour. He loves to avenge his honour, even at 
the expense of his own cherished sins. He has 
the peaceful consciousness that every root of 
bitterness is cast out. Though he knows not if 
he shall be forgiven, he makes no condition. He 
is reconciled, though God be not — he will submit 
himself to his righteous decision. In the warm 
tide of these feelings his soul is dissolved; he is 
filled with the extasy of utter self-conquest and 
submission to God. As you look curiously and 
coldly on, you might suppose that his heart was 
a fountain of unmixed wretchedness. The tears, 
the sobs, the spasms of emotion, might seem to 
betray an inward woe ; but you would misjudge 
him. He was never oppressed with such a weight 
of bliss before. He is righting, as far as he can, 
all the wrongs he has ever inflicted upon his God 
— he can do no more. This is his joy, and earth 
has no feeling to match the pathos of its deUght, 
and if heaven be only like this he will be satis- 


fiecl. It is the joy which at that very moment 
thrills through heaven, and bursts forth from 
angel tongues in a new hallelujah over one sinner 
that has repented. A child of glory has been 
born of that travail, and this is the bliss of his 
immortality begun with his repentance. 

Fifthly, Let me add a concluding reason why 
repentance may be regarded as a privilege, viz : 
because it terminates in everlasting salvation — 
it is repentance unto life. The bliss of immor- 
tality begins with it in time. It is true indeed 
that immortality, unlike this mortal state, wiU 
have no sin, and therefore no new repentance. 
But immortality is only the fruit of which re- 
pentance is the seed. Heaven is a consecrated 
heart matured in piety. Heaven is a dedication 
to God confirmed by practice. Heaven is the 
hatred and avoidance of sin, begun in humiliation 
but finished in glory. Holy affections, just 
germinating on earth, but nipped by many an 
untimely chill, and broken by many an unfriendly 
temptation, now become firm in the presence of 
God and clinging to his throne — a new nature 
born of repentance, grown up to a seraphic man- 
hood ; in a word, a trembling child of sin exalted 
to be a king and priest in the celestial temple, 
and only a younger brother of Jesus Christ. 

Heaven's knowledge is the perfecting of that 


first insight of Divinity which repentance inspired. 
The communion of glory is the prolonging of 
that intercourse between the sinner and his 
Saviour, which was first established when he 
first repented. The rapture of bliss is only the 
immortal expansion of that first throb of sweet 
contrition. The everlasting gratitude of redemp- 
tion began in the closet, and the everlasting song 
of free grace was learned upon his knees at the 
cross. Such is the value of repentance in pre- 
paring us for glory. Uepentance is with us in 
our meditations, in our prayers, in our praise. 
It is endeared to us by all the joys and sorrows 
of Christian experience; it is the companion of 
our pilgrimage, and the handmaid of our salva- 
tion; it watches over our dying bed, our latest 
friend. We leave it behind at the gate of heaven, 
never to meet again. It returns to guide other 
wanderers, and we enter upon the life which re- 
pentance opened to our souls. And, in the words 
of Rowland Hill, "If we may be permitted to 
drop one tear, as we enter the portals of glory, it 
will be at taking an eternal leave of that beloved 
and profitable companion — Repentance." 

My friends, the time is coming to each one of 

us, when the assurance that we have exercised a 

true repentance will be a better consolation than 

the world can supply besides. The consciousness 



of a heart broken for its sins, and surrendered to 
Christ, ^vill give you a peace so solid that not 
the waves of death nor the storms of judgment 
can shake it. It shall be your staff in the dark 
valle}^, and your victory over all foes, and your 
everlasting privilege and joy. 

Christians ! let me beseech you then to lay the 
foundation sure. Christians ! let us refresh our 
religion by doing our first works. My hearers, 
one and all, begin in your closets to-night the 
saving work. Let there be a sabbath joy among 
the angels of heaven, giving new glory to God, 
that he hath granted to this congregation the 
repentance which is unto life. 



Ruth i. 16, 17. 

" "Whither thou goest, I will go ; and where thou lodgest, 
I TviLL lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy 
God my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there 
WILL I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, 


To a superficial reader of the Bible, the book 
of Ruth might seem a foreign and useless narra- 
tive. But when its connection with the other 
sacred history is understood, the reason of its 
introduction is both apparent and satisfactory. 
As the memoir alone of a single-hearted woman, 
in whom the gentle affections of her sex were 
strong and uppermost, it might win a romantic 
regard ; but from its association, it inspires an in- 
terest of a sacred sort. The heroine of the story 
was a personage of high note, as well as of lovely 
character. She might be called, by excellence, 
a mother in Israel, because in her is found the 
parentage of that line of David, whose last and 


124 ruth's decision. 

glorious issue was the Eedeemer of men. Through 
his long line of* human ancestry, Jesus of Naza- 
reth might find an early mother in the gentle 
and affectionate Euth. She was, you Avill recol- 
lect, of the daughters of Moab, an oblique descend- 
ant of the Patriarchal stock ; but she had b}^ mar- 
riage become connected with an Israelitish family. 
She was now the widow of a young Hebrew, 
wdio had died in the land of Moab; and whose 
mother, Naomi, was now about to leave her 
adopted country and return to Judea, in order to 
cast herself upon the hospitality of her kindred. 
As Naomi entered upon this journey, she was 
accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, Orpah 
and Ptuth; the former being likewise in widow- 
hood. They had travelled but a little w^ay, 
when Naomi entreated her daughters-in-law to 
return to their home. She told them she could 
ofl'er them no attractions in the little town of 
Bethlehem, amongst a plain and unsophisticated 
people, and she a desolate widow. The thought 
of parting with their widowed mother-in-law so 
affected the daughters, that they lifted up their 
voices and wept. They wept, yet their grief 
was not alike. Orpah thought of the pleasant 
Moab land ; and the bond of old attractions was 
so strong, that she gave her mother a farewell 
kiss, and left her to pursue her journey as she 

ruth's decision. 125 

But Ruth clave unto her. Earnest-minded 
and true, she had given her mother her heart, 
and she determined to cast in her lot with Naomi, 
for weal or for woe ; and when her mother said, 
^''Behold thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her 
people, and unto her gods, return thou after 
thy sister-in-law," the affectionate daughter 
answered, " Entreat me not to leave thee, and to 
return from foUoAving after thee ; for whither thou 
goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will 
lodge : thy peo|)le shall be my people, and thy 
God my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and 
there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me 
and more also, if aught but death part thee and 
me." And so the friendship of Buth and Naomi 
became indissoluble. 

I scarcely know a more touching record of sim- 
ple, earnest love. Beautiful for its purity of 
sentiment, and strong in its devotion of purpose, 
we pause before the example of this young Mo- 
abitess, and feel subdued by more than admira- 
tion. Her tenderness captivates our love, while 
her self-oblivion fills us with the reverence for a 
superior nature. We see in her a rare blending 
of moral elements, the action and reaction of the 
gentle with the earnest, of warm affections and 
delicate sensibility with firmness of will. The 
strength of her affections was controlled by the 

126 ruth's decision. 

power of determination, and the energy of will, 
softened and refined by the warmth of heart. 
On the one hand, her benevolence could never 
degenerate into fondness, nor, on the other, could 
her firmness ever reach to an unfeeling obstinacy. 
She would be instinctively kind, without being 
weak, and quickly sympathetic, without being in- 
constant. These are the prevailing elements of 
a character, at once lovely and efficient; fitted 
best for the mellow joys of the domestic sphere, 
but not iucompetent to the daring of a heroine, 
and rising, on occasion, to a true majesty. 

Contrast this character a moment with that of 
the other daughter. Orpah was a more common 
person. She had sensibihty, but not deep-laid 
aifection. The fountain of feeling could be easi- 
ly unlocked, but it was quickly exhausted. An 
infirmity of wiU, joined to a weakness of the 
affections, made her, at any moment, liable to be 
swayed and driven from her course. Because 
her resolves had no anchorage in her heart, they 
never rose to the dignity of principles, but left 
her only a character of mere impulsiveness, fitful 
and uncertain, and no more likely to be attracted 
towards the right at one moment, than liable to 
be driven impetuously to the wrong at the next. 
Tears could gush readily, but the feeling evapo- 
rated with tears. There was a quick sensibility 

ruth's decision. 127 

joined with essential cold-hearteclness. Such is 
not the character for enterprize, or consistency, 
or courage, or endurance. Never look for self- 
sacrifice, or cross-bearing, or holy determination 
from such a character. It is too superficial. The 
soil is so shallow, that piety cannot strike its 
roots deeply, nor shoot thriftly, nor bear rich 
fruits, nor survive a drought. Orpah could weep 
upon the neck of her mother-in-law, and with a 
grief that seemed at the moment true and heartfelt. 
But when Naomi suggested the thought of her 
return, and the image of that fair land of her 
birth was drawn before her mind — its idol gods, 
its home scenes, its gay companions, its pleasures, 
all bright, though godless — the tide of pleasant 
remembrance was too strong for her affections, 
and she bade her mother a long and last farewell, 
and Orpah became again a Moabite. We do not 
know that they ever met again. 

It was just the occasion for magnanimity. It 
was a crisis that would overpower a weak attach- 
ment and try the fibre of a strong one. That 
which would be destructive to the one, would be 
wholesome and invigorating discipline to the 
other. It was, at all events, the best occasion 
for the development of character, and Orpah 
yielded, but Euth was firm. The trial was the 
same to her sister as to her. There were friends 


in Moab, «ind pleasures, and gaieties, and idol 
gods — old attachments and tender remembrances. 
There was joy and wealth behind, and only lone- 
liness and poverty before. But what were these — 
a land of strangers, a narrow home, the forsaking 
of kindred, and the denial of ungodliness and 
worldly lusts — what were all these to the power 
of a love stronger than death? Naomi was her 
mother, and Ruth loved her. She loved her 
character — she loved her society — she loved her 
God — and she knew she should love her people 
and kindred; and the struggle seems, in her 
mind, to have been rather against Naomi's en- 
treaties, than the blandishments of her fonner 
home. She could resist all these, with the ex- 
ample of her sister besides; and so she clave to 
Naomi and her fortunes, for life or death. 

I presume you have already anticipated our 
application of this story; it illustrates so aptly 
the process and feelings of those who are just 
turning to God. The starting point, the motives, 
the sacrifices, the aim and destination of the 
Christian, are all represented by the narrative we 
have reviewed. The children of God are journey- 
ing from Moab to Bethlehem. The one place is 
the home of the soul, where God dwells and his 
people serve him — the land of promise and of 
final peace. And Moab is the ungodly world, 

kuth's decision. 129 

into whose customs, society and pleasures we 
were all born; a land of many idols and sinful 
pursidts, though of sweet and intoxicating 
pleasures. It has its rich scenes, its entertaining 
companions, its exhilarating moments and pas- 
sages of life. But Moab was always hostile to 
the true God, and his true people. It was by 
means of the daughters of this land, that Balaam 
betrayed the Israelites into idolatry. It was 
this people who refused them permission to pass 
through the land, on their pilgrimage to Canaan; 
and God denounced upon them, in after years, 
many sore punishments. There is peculiar force, 
therefore, in the analogy, which brings the world 
into comparison with Moab. 

For is not the Christian a stranger and pilgrim 
here ? If he will live godly in Christ Jesus, does 
he not suffer persecution? — if not by open vio- 
lence, yet by the unholy persuasions, the unfeel- 
ing reproaches, the offensive criticism, the averted 
look and sneer of them who know not God. 
Does not his heart bleed to hear the name of his 
Master dishonoured and blasphemed, and are not 
the people of the land given to the service and 
worship of idols — pleasure or ambition, or the 
lust of money? All of us, brethren, have passed 
some 3^ears in this idolatrous land. But if 3'Ou 
have listened to the Divine call of bereavement, 

130 ruth's decision. 

or poverty, or friendlessness, or inward dissatis- 
faction with yourselves, or any other summons, 
then you have taken up your journey and set 
your faces towards Bethlehem. You ha^-e left 
behind you in the world many beloved friends, 
husbands or wives, parents or children, who re- 
fused to follow you in the unpromising journey. 
Perhaps they were almost determined to cast in 
their lot with yours. At least they must have 
had some relentings of nature — some inward mis- 
givings at the thought of a separation that might 
be eternal. It is true, 3^ou are personally with 
them yet; but in heart, and spirit, and purpose, 
and destiny, you are very far asunder, and tra- 
velling fast away from the land where they love 
to find their portion. Weep for them, brethren; 
pray for them, as you love their salvation; but 
turn not back after them, as you love your own. 
Again, from this instance of the narrative, we 
may understand the exercises of a mind just 
entering on a course of piety. It is evident that 
there was in the mind of each of these daughters 
of Naomi a distinct and simple act of choice. 
^' Where thou goest, I will go," says the aflec- 
tionate Huth. All practical religion begins in an 
act of choice. I do not mean to impinge upon 
the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's agency in the 
renewal of the soul. The minister of Christ is 

ruth's decision. 131 

contented and thankful to refer tlie glory of a 
souFs salvation to Divine grace alone. When he 
would gather up the flowers and fruits of grace, 
wheresoever found — whether in the large suc- 
cesses of the Gospel, or in the awakening and 
sanctifying of the individual man — whatsoever 
be their excellence and their worth, he would 
attribute nothing to human merit. He would 
twine all those graces of piety and salvation into 
a wreath of imperishable beauty, but not for the 
adornment of any human monument — not as a 
chaplet of honour to any human reputation. 
But he would move most humbly, on his knees, 
to the very footstool of Jehovah, and bow his 
head in lowliness to the earth, as he reached up 
and placed on the lowest step of the throne this 
trophy to sovereign grace; and the voice of his 
tremulous exultation should be, "Not unto us — 
not unto us — but unto thy name be the praise 
for evermore." But the acknowledgment of one 
true doctrine does not conflict w^ith the reception 
of another doctrine, equally true. And it is 
evident, from the most satisfactory proof, that all 
practical godliness begins in an act of choice. 
There may be most powerful awakenings, and 
urgent desires, and tears, and groans, and 
prayers ; yet these all never brought grace and 
conversion to the soul of man, nor gave him 

132 ruth's decision. 

salvation in heaven. These may impel a sinner 
tip to the very line of decision ; and yet, with the 
strongest agony of conviction — with an entire 
rending of his spirit — he is not a Christian, until 
he oversteps that line, and plants his feet firmly 
on the side of godliness. 

And this one step is his ow^n. Hitherto he 
has been passive. In all the previous steps of 
the process he has been acted upon. His con- 
victions w^ere involuntary — his pains he could 
not help — his tears were made to flow by the 
violence of his pains. These are affections, not 
action; and for these he is not directly respon- 
sible. But the choice is his. The last determi- 
nation is voluntary. He may hesitate, and waver, 
and balance the opposing considerations. He 
may stand poised for that last decision, for a 
longer or a shorter space. But these things have 
their termination. He decides at last, and that 
decision seals and fixes his destiny; and that 
decision is his own voluntary act. It is the all- 
powerful "/ ivill,'' which bears him over the 
dividing line, and plants his feet in the promised 
land of grace. God helps him then. All heaven 
and all good beings are on his side. He has 
begun the journey to Bethlehem. "Where thou 
goest, I will go." 

I wish I might impress this truth upon you, 

ruth's decision. 133 

for I believe the only reason why so many are in 
clanger of losing their salvation, is because they 
have never determinately resolved to be saved. 
They have wasted their time and endangered 
their eternity, by vague regrets, and unavailing 
fears, and involuntary anxiety, and half-formed 
wishes, and untrusting prayers. But they have 
not summoned themselves to this stern enterprise 
of the will. They have shrunk from a decision; 
and are contented, like Orpah, to w^eep and lament 
for a while, and then they return to their com- 
panions and their gods. I think I know the 
violence of this mental struggle. I can under- 
stand the inward conflict that rages oftentimes 
in the bosom of a man, before he will surrender 
himself to his rightful Lord and Master; when 
the pride of intellect, and the pride of reputation, 
and the pride of wealth will lay their strong 
forces together, side by side, and conspire against 
God, and refuse to bow down at the mercy-seat 
and ask forgiveness. And so do fashionable 
tastes, and the love of dress, and the love of 
gayety, and the fear of being ridiculed, and the 
thought of sacrificing so much that is in the 
world, w^eave a silken band about the will; and 
the poor, weak young man or woman concludes 
he cannot sacrifice so much for eternity, and he 
prefers to resign his journey, and follows the 

134 ruth's decision. 

Biisguiclecl danghtcr of Naomi back to the land 
of sin and doom. 

But let not such a person dare to say anything 
of the matter, but only that he has refused the 
invitation of his God. When he had only to 
choose, in order to be saved, he chose wrong; 
and when, at the last, his injured Saviour looks 
upon him, with this reproach, "You w^ould not 
come unto me, that you might have life," my 
dear friend, you will own it, you w^ill own it, for 
you will be speechless. 

Oh, that decision — that critical decision ! One 
little act, the simplest act of the soul, yet preg- 
nant with the w^hole complex of character and 
destiny. Begotten in a moment, but living 
through eternity. The verge line of salvation, 
or ruin. The single hair which holds an infinite 
weight. How unspeakable the value of a mo- 
ment! The clock strikes once. If that should 
be the note of the sinner's doom, he is lost for- 
ever. But before the echo of that bell-note dies, 
it strikes again; and now that lost creature has 
seized the cross, decided for Christ, and is safe 
eternally. How long halt ye, my brethren? 
Decide now — and let me tell you the objects you 
should have in view in your decision. 

" Thy people shall be my people, and ih?/ God, 
my God." The foremost object of the sinner's 

ruth's decision. 135 

choice is God — to love him, serve him, be dedi- 
cated supremely to him, as the portion of his 
soul, his shield and exceeding great reward. 
That is the god of our souls, which our souls 
love most; to which we pay the highest practi- 
cal regard; to wdiich we refer our motives, and 
render our obedience; for which we make most 
sacrifices, and which constitutes the living, pow- 
erful centre of our affections. It may be ambi- 
tion, or wealth, or any other form of worldliness. 
A w^ife shall perhaps control the husband's heart 
and command his faculties, and time, and hfe, 
installed in his heart as on a throne. Or a hus- 
band shall be the tyrant, who, by an influence 
direct or indirect, shall so overrule a woman's 
impulses and affections, that she shall live for 
him alone, as if he were God. Or, it may be a 
little child, who, in the narrow circle of his enjoy- 
ment, shall engross the parent's influence, and 
care, and means; and to those fond parents the 
little child is as a deity. 

Diversify the view, and multiply the objects as 
you please, you will find in every worldly thing 
some quality of power, to which you will find 
among men an answeriug and devout worship- 
per. From a crown to a mineral, or a shell or 
a black letter page, you may extend the cata- 
logue; and some one of these objects has so en- 

136 huth's decision. 

grossed the minds and souls of men, as to blind 
them to their immortal interests, and even alike 
to their mortal. There is something which every 
man loves supremely. If it be nothing external 
to himself, then it is something within, and hm- 
self is his chief divinity. 

Men must have a god — the great God has 
made them so. Now the world's sin is, that it 
has forsaken the one living and true God, and 
substituted the creature in his place. We need 
not unbury ancient monuments and temples to 
count the number of false deities. There never 
were so many idols shaped of wood and stone, as 
are enshrined in the bosoms of our Christianized 
men and women, in the power of some w^orldly 
passion and end. There never was such a Pan- 
theon as the human heart. It is only in the little 
Bethlehem of God's Church, that you find a true 
and holy Avorship. The wide world besides is 
only a Moab of idolatry. Unconvertedness is 

Now the decision we have spoken of, has for 
its object the discarding of every idol from the 
heart, and the enthroning of God in his rightful 
seat — to control the feelings, direct the motives, 
and shape the character of the soul. It is the 
being swallowed up in him in love, to say, "Whom 
have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none on 

ruth's decision. 137 

earth I desire besides thee." It is the engross- 
ing of our wills in his, so that to do his will shall 
be both our meat and drink. It is to seek his 
favour as the highest good, and trust in him as 
the surest helper. In a word, it is to serve him 
with the whole heart — and to begin noiv. 

I need not say a word of the advantages of 
that service. You yourselves, my brethren, ac- 
knowledge the superiority of his nature, the 
glory of his excellent goodness, and the lasting 
benefits of his love; that his favour is life, and 
his loving-kindness better than life. Such was 
the decision of Huth — bringing her away from 
every false god, and committing her to the alone 
guidance of the true Jehovah. 

Again: "Thy people shall be my people." 
The Christian is a member of a family — the 
household of Christ. He has entered amongst 
the general assembly of the first-born, whose 
names are written in heaven. He lives not for 
himself — he is one of a fraternity. And when 
he gave himself to his Master, he became a part- 
ner of those wdio have entered into the same 
service. They are a peculiar people. They 
have a new spirit, a common aim, a mutual 
sympathy. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism; 
one God and Father of all, who is above all, and 
through all, and in them all." They live like 

138 euth's decision. 

brethren. They are pitiful, and courteous, and 
compassionate; striving only in kindness, and 
provoking one another only to good works. If 
one member suffer, all the members suffer with 
him. The brother of high degree exalteth not 
himself above him that is lowly; but in honour 
preferring one another, they bear one another's 
burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Their 
communion here is only a type of the heavenly. 
Their oneness of feeling an antepast of the ever- 
lasting fellowship of the Holy Ghost. " Blest is 
the tie that binds those hearts in Christian love." 
Happy community! elect of God and precious! 
Thrice happy in the governance of the Saviour 
of sinners, in the growing purity of your souls, 
and in your glorious hope of immortality ! Break 
not that triple bond, dear brethren, for it is most 
holy. Profane not your calling, for it is to 
heaven. Think not of the broken friendships of 
Moab, because your people are God's ; and when 
you made the great decision of salvation, you 
made yourself one of a fraternity which com- 
prises not many mighty, not many learned, not 
many rich ; but you chose them still, to be only 
their equal; to take the place of the lowest, and 
to go up to your home, and stand at heaven's 
door hand in hand with those who, here on earth, 
are as the oifscouring of all things. 

ruth's decision. 139 

Once more, I call to your notice another fea- 
ture in the decision of Ruth — one Avhich brings 
her decision in forcible contrast to her sister's. 
It was ^filial decision. It embraced her whole 
coming life. When she forsook Moab, it was 
forever. When she made choice of God and his 
people, it was for life or death. "Where thou 
diest, I will die, and there will I be buried." 
Her sister had made a momentary determination, 
that she too would follow the fortunes of Naomi. 
But she returned, and they saw her no more. 
We may illustrate, by this contrast, the difference 
between two modes of decision, which seems very 
slight at first, but terminates in the utmost 

It is possible, nay it is very easy, for one who 
is awakened to pursue the heavenly pilgrimage, 
to adopt only a partial decision, and so to defeat 
the whole end of salvation. He decides by way 
of experiment. He has heard that if he sur- 
renders himself to Christ, he shall gain the se- 
curity and peace which his spirit craves ; and he 
comes to the mercy-seat and renders his formal 
submission to God. But if you could read his 
heart, you would mark there a spuit of reserva- 
tion. He has not submitted himself uncondition- 
ally to God. In his own mind he has prescribed 
these terms of dedication — " Give me comfort, and 

140 ruth's decision. 

I will give my heart." It is as if he demanded 
the wages before he has wrought the labour. It 
is as if he were purely selfish — willing to forsake 
his pleasant sins, if he can find a j)leasanter sub- 
stitute, but refusing to renounce them till he has 
seized the other bUss; and determining to cling 
to them if that other bliss cannot soon be his. 
It is as if he were unwilKng to rely in simplicity 
on the absolute word of God, and therefore de- 
mands a pledge in advance. Such a decision 
never carried a sinner to heaven. 

Many have been the followers of Orpah in this 
false surrender to rehgion. You can see them 
roused in the church, when some shaft of truth 
transfixes the soul, and quivers in the wound. 
You can see them overwhelmed and bowed down 
with grief, as they stand at the tomb's door. 
You see them very thoughtful on the vanity of 
human life, when they have struggled against 
debt and poverty, and been conquered ; and then 
you shall see them fly to religion for their com- 
fort — solely for their own private ease, and not 
at all for pardon and the favour of God. Im- 
pulsive in its source, their decision will be most 
transient in its Hfe. In the fickleness of super- 
ficial feeling, they throw off the oppressive grief 
in a flood of tears — and Orpah wends her way 
again to the wicked Moab. 

ruth's d:^ision. 141 

The decision of Ruth was, and the decision 
of a true godliness always is, both unconditional 
and final. Nothing is reserved. The idols are 
not only left, but renounced. Moab is forsaken 
forever. The companions of sin are abandoned, 
and the everlasting interests of the soul — its 
attachments, faculties, attainments — the soul it- 
self — the whole moral creature — cast away into 
the outspread arms of the soul's only Saviour. 
The sinner feels that his decision is his last; 
that his covenant cannot be retracted. If he 
perishes, he perishes ; but he Avill perish in the 
path to heaven — his feet at the cross, his face 
towards the mercy seat. I said, but just now, 
"Oh! that critical decision!" Can we help say- 
ing now, " Oh ! that most glorious decision, which 
without reserve, without conditions — finally and 
forever — brings the sinner to the footstool and 
the soul to glory?" Angels mark that decision. 
God writes it in his book; and the new song 
swells forth louder, till the arches of heaven ring 
again, with the new joy, "He was dead, he is 
alive again. He was lost and is found." 

My brethren, the decision of Huth has been 
acted over again here many times. The meaning 
of the baptismal vow is, "Whither thou goest, 
I will go; where thou dwellest, I will dwell; 
thy people shall be my people, and thy God my 

142 ruth's decision. 

God. God do so to me, and more also, if aught 
bub death part thee and me." You have seen 
that solemn rite many times, and every time you 
witnessed it, it was as a tender appeal of your 
companions and friends, starting on their pilgri- 
mage, and looking back, beckoning to you, ^'We 
are journeying to the place, of which the Lord 
said, I will give it you; come thou with us, and 
we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken 
good concerning Israel." They invite you still 
to go up with them out of the land of idolatry 
and sinful pleasure. They have joined the family 
of the Lord, and they have parted from you, to 
press on forever to glory. Dear friends, will you 
let them go without you ? And will you return 
to the world to sin on? They have chosen God 
for their portion — Christ for their Saviour. Can- 
not their example move you? Have not they 
tasted of the j)leasures of the world, and traversed 
the pleasant places of sin? Yet they have left 
them all behind. They have found a better 
land, even a heavenly. Are not your souls as 
precious as theirs? Will not heaven be as 
delightful to you as to them ? Can you afford 
any better than they to trifle with your eternity ? 
Will you let them depart without crying out after 
them, "We will go with you, for we have heard 
that the Lord is with you." Where you go, so 

ruth's decision. 143 

will we — jour people shall be our people, and 
your God ours. God do so, and more also, if 
aught but death part you and us. 

Dear friends — one and all — remember that the 
spiritual separation which takes place when any 
of you are regenerated, is only a type of that 
eternal parting which shall be at the judgment 
day. You may dwell together in person until 
then. You may live beneath the same roof — sit 
at the same table — occupy the same pew — die, 
one after another, on the same bed, and be laid 
in the same tomb. But when you rise again, 
you shall part forever. Parents and children — 
husbands and wives — loving and loved — shall 
part to meet no more. How awful will be that 
parting! Is there no feeling of desire to travel 
with them ? Then do not, like Orpah, wish, and 
weep, and turn away, but cast in your lot with 
them, once and for all. Choose God for your God ; 
his people, for your companions and friends; 
Christ, for your Saviour; his Spirit, for your 
guide ; heaven, for your home. 



IIebre\YS xii. 14. 
" Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." 

We are all in pursuit of one object. Our modes 
of life are different, our callings, our amusements, 
our means, our tastes — yet there is one aim uni- 
versal to the race, and that is happiness. Men 
run to and fro, and seek out many inventions; 
and if you will hearken a moment to the voice 
of human activity and passion, coming forth day 
and night, from the thick multitude, it is only 
the everlasting cry, "Who will show us any 
good ?" This is the root of human motives. Men 
do not love life more than they love enjoyment. 
Therefore it is that every man wishes to go to 
heaven. But what heaven would be, if it were 
to be shaped and shifted to suit the wishes of 
men's hearts, you can judge perhaps better than 
I. Some persons would wish to carry there 
their riches, that they might count gold forever • 


and some their honours, that the first here might 
be the first in heaven; and some their luxury, so 
that their present heaven might last always. 
Some are so lifted up with pride and contempt 
of their inferiors, that no bliss would suit them 
in which there was not an aristocracy; and are 
there not trifling men and women, who are so 
much the votaries of fashion and display, that if 
they could enter into the courts of God, their 
chief admiration and delight would be spent 
upon the beautiful garments of their immor- 
tahty? Now, since all we can know of the 
future life must be a matter of revelation, it be- 
hoves us to inquire, what has God spoken of 
eternity? Is there an immortal fehcity? Can 
that fehcity be attained ? On what conditions? 
Through what means ? This question, which ex- 
presses the pleading desires of the human soul, 
God has definitely answered. Life and immor- 
tahty have been brought to light through the 
gospel. There is a heaven, comprising as its 
ingredients, glory, honour, immortality, and in- 
ward peace and rest. It was meant for the 
human soul, and the human soul for it. But it 
is accessible only through one highway. In the 
prophet's words, "A. highway shall be there and 
a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness. 
The unclean shall not pass over it, but the 


redeemed shall walk there." If the question be, 
What is the personal qualification that shall make 
me meet for heaven? I answer with the ajjostle, 
"Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." 
You will have inferred already, that our subject 
is "Holiness essential to salvation." 

Let us endeavour, therefore, to analyze and 
discover the true nature of holiness. Holiness, 
in the abstract, is conformity to moral right. 
When, in ordinary speech, we ascribe holiness to 
God, we mean to denote that matchless purity 
of his nature that makes him always and inflexi- 
bly just, and righteous, and true. So that what- 
ever proceeds from him, is the best that is con- 
ceivable. Whatever he does, is right. What- 
ever he speaks, is everlasting truth. Whatever 
he wills, is dictated by the impulses of a trans- 
cendent excellence. Whatever his bosom loves, 
is the superlative of moral fitness. Whatever 
plan his mind conceives, is sure to be accordant 
with the highest interests of the universe, so that 
it may be said, with an infinite emphasis, that 
God is holy. And more than this is true, for 
not only is the Almighty holy, but he is holiness 
itself. He is the embodying of that quality. In 
his nature the abstract idea is rendered substan- 
tial. The conception is made alive. And be- 
pause God is the living substance of holiness, he 


is fit to be our pattern. Because he is essential 
perfection, his will is our rule of holiness. If 
we had minds of an infinite grasp, we might 
make our own laws ; for we could then determine 
the bounds of abstract fitness, and each one of 
us would be a God to himself. But inasmuch 
as we are subordinate creatures, and can by no 
means understand all the relations of things, we 
must reckon ourselves as under tuition. We 
must have a schoolmaster to train our infant 
powers, and hold before our eyes the pattern and 
the rule of holiness. The pattern, I have said, 
is God himself, the rule is the teachings of God. 
Holiness in the created being therefore, holiness 
in men, consists in conformity to God — our char- 
acter conformed to God's character, our doings 
conformed to God's revealed will. This is, I 
think, the most intelligible description of holiness 
— conformity to God's revealed will. To deter- 
mine the particular developments of human holi- 
ness, we must review the particular revelations 
of God's will. Holiness will consist in conformi- 
ty to them. God has revealed his will to man- 
kind, both in the law and in the gospel. The 
law is the rule of outward and inward morality. 
The gospel teaches us how to obey that rule, by 
inspiring us with sufficient motives and constrain- 
ing desires. The law is the rule for sinless be- 


ings, and presupposes a sinless nature. You 
have only to show to a sinless being the way to 
do right, and he is already furnished with the 
afiections and desires that make his soul press on 
after holiness and God. The law of God is there- 
fore the rule of holiness to angels, and the winged 
cherubim, and all beatified spirits in heaven. 
It was Adam's rule before he fell. It will be the 
universal rule and guide of the millennium, when 
no man shall be obliged to say to his brother, 
''Know the Lord, for all shall know him, from 
the least to the greatest." 

But the law of God is not an available rule for 
sinners, because sinners have no heart to obey it. 
It is still binding, indeed; for to suppose other- 
wise, would be to suppose that God can have 
two contradictory wills on the same subject. It 
is binding upon the sinner in its precept, for the 
sinner ought to obey it. It is binding upon him 
in its penalty, for the sinner will be destro3^ed 
if he disobeys it. The law has for the sinner, if 
we may speak so, only a monumental efficacy. 
It is the standard of moral perfection, just as the 
temple of Theseus is the model of classic archi- 
tecture, just as the Belvidere Apollo is the mould 
of animal beauty, but it is only cold marble 
after all. The law has no hfe-giving power. It 
declares what we ought to do and to be, but it 


leaves us as it finds us, in all the impotency of 
conscious and inborn unholiness. Men might 
have gazed forever at the standard of Divine 
purity, revealed in the law of God, but, because 
they had lost the impulse and sympathy of holi- 
ness, the standard would only have disheartened 
them. A holy being would find all his desires 
drawn out in contemplating the law of God, and 
every feeling warmed as when one basks in the 

But show the pattern of purity to the fallen 
soul and it ti'embles, just as you might suppose 
an arctic sailor to grow more chilly at the bright 
splendour of an iceberg. But you need not\e 
told, my hearers, that God has not abandoned 
us to the frigid requirements of the law. When 
he foresaw that men would fall, he knew there 
must be something devised, not simply to show 
them how a holy being ought to act, but how a 
sinful creature might become holy. And there- 
fore he provided a way by which faUen man 
might be restored, and his decayed holiness re- 
newed. God willed again, and the gospel came 
down to us a standard of duty for fallen men, a 
rule of action for sinners, a pattern of holiness 
shining in the face of Jesus Christ the Saviour, 
God manifested in the flesh. The first step of 
conformity to God's will, which the sinner can 


take, is to receive the gospel with all his heart. 
He has nothing to do with the law as a means 
of salvation, because he has already violated it 
a thousand times, a thousand times told. The 
first duty the gospel enjoins is a duty which the 
law never recognized — repentance for sin. The 
second principle of holiness, as taught by the 
gospel, is faith in a Saviour who died as a sub- 
stitute for sinners. This is evangehcal hohness. 
No person ever cordially acquiesced in these 
terms without thereby being conformed to God. 
By his repentance the sinner abjures and loathes 
iniquity. He sees it to be that abominable 
wrong w^hich brings death and ruin into the world. 
He declares w^ar against it as the enemy of his 
soul, and so he stands on the same platform with 
all holy beings, and is at once enlisted into the 
ranks of heaven's own army. 

There is joy with the angels of God, because 
Divine grace has won a fresh trophy, and the 
Divine holiness secured a new ally. Moreover, 
in the act of repentance, the smner virtually ac- 
knowledges the righteousness of God in another 
way. He subscribes, as it w^ere, the sentence of 
his own condemnation, so that the fearful penalty 
of the Divine law seems no more than he deserves, 
and therein he sets his seal that God is right 
and he in the wrong. Strange transformation ! 


Wonderful revolution of feeling! That law, 
which once seemed so full of terror, whose intol- 
erable precepts seemed almost like lightning to 
scathe his sight, and whose heavy penalties 
seemed to roll and burst about him like the sound 
of near thunder, when the hghtning strikes its 
object; that holy law is the penitent sinner's ad- 
miration. Its vivid precepts seem like purifying 
beams from God. Its tremendous retributions 
utter the voice of heaven's glorious holiness. The 
sinning man is stricken down, but he cannot say 
it is not all right. The law offers no hope to the 
repentant, but he cannot help repenting, and 
though the bolt may fall upon him next, he 
knows he deserves the worst. In such a mood 
of contrition and self-abasement, the sinner is 
prepared for the cordial reception of a Saviour; 
knowing that he has no righteousness of his own, 
he is compelled to look about for a shelter be- 
neath another's merits. In a word, he feels his 
need of a Saviour ; and when he reads in the gos- 
pel the proclamation of redeeming love, he no 
longer slights it, for its rnerc}^ is just what he 
needs to raise him from the dust. 

When he understands that the reason of God 
sending his Son, was that he might be just and 
justify the ungodly, he seems to have acquired 
a new perception, and cries out. Oh ! the depth, 


the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God. 
He sees how mercy and truth met together in 
Christ, how righteousness and peace embraced 
each other at the cross. When he reads in the 
evangelists that the Son of Man came to seek 
and to save that which was lost, his heart cries 
out, "Lord, save me, or I perish;" and when he 
learns from the apostle that the saying is worthy 
of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the 
world to save sinners, he refuses no longer. He 
embraces the Saviour as his, determined that, 
henceforward, nothing shall separate him from the 
love of Christ. You behold the sinner now in the 
second step of evangelical holiness. With a heart 
changed from the love of sin to the love of the 
Saviour, he has become conformed to God. There 
is now a principle in the centre of his being, 
which is the mother of all holy excellencies and 
all pious affections. His soul is penetrated with 
a new life, so that all the out-goings of his char- 
acter shall be different from their former course. 
He is holy in heart, and he wdll be holy in his 
walk and conversation. He is on the footing of 
those holy beings to whom, I just now said, the 
law is an available and proper rule. The gospel 
has furnished him with a supply of motives and 
affections to obey the law. Because God so 
loved him as to surrender his own Son in his 


stead, he sends back an answering love to heaven, 
a love that engrosses his soiil, and heart, and 
might, and mind, and obedience becomes his meat 
and his drink. This is a matter I wish to en- 
force w^ith pecuhar emphasis, because it is often 
misrepresented by the enemies of the gospel, and 
apparently misunderstood by some who are its 
professed disciples. I mean the connection of 
evangelical piety with living and practical obe- 
dience. Does it countenance sin to say that it is 
freely forgiven at the cross ? Does it represent 
the Almighty as winking at disobedience to pro- 
claim that there is no condemnation to them who 
are in Christ Jesus ? It is a favourite device of 
Satan to say so ; when he has exhausted his 
resources, and worn out his ingenuity to keep the 
sinner from being a Christian, his next endeavour 
will be to make him a false Christian. 

He would as lieve pluck his victims from the 
threshold of heaven, as to lead them under his 
own proper banners to their darkness and chains. 
He sometimes clothes himself as an angel of 
light, and holds out to the aw^akened person the 
lure of a false hope, and satisfies him with 
an imperfect religious experience, and whispers, 
"Peace, peace," when true peace there is none 
to him; because he has not renounced his sins and 
himself, and has trusted to Jesus Christ to save 


him, not from sinning but from dying. Can one 
stand as a watchman on the walls of Zion, de- 
manding the countersign of all who pass in and 
out before him? Can the pastor be fjimiliar with 
the character and conduct of the members of the 
Church's flock, and marking this one's indifler- 
ence and the indolence of another, listening to 
the ill-natured cavillings of a thh'd, hearing how 
loudly some can profess and seeing how little they 
do, never denying themselves, never taking up the 
cross, wilhng that Christ's cause should flourish 
and prosper if others will sustain it, but scarcely 
stretching forth a finger to aid it, expending 
much for self-indulgence, and giving only a beg- 
gar's mite for Christ and charity, of all debts 
satisfying the Church's debt last, or not at all; 
can he see it and not admit that all are not Israel 
who are of Israel? 

But conceding the fact then, that man}^ Chris- 
tians may be false, it does not follow that they 
profess a false Gospel. It is not the less infalli- 
bly sure that a sincere repentance and a living 
faith will, as St. John speaks, purify the heart 
and overcome the world, that they are the true 
beginning of religion for a sinner, the sure pre- 
cursors of a holy life. God has forefended the 
vicious conclusion we argue against in the words 
of our text. A sweet fountain can send forth 


bitter waters as well and as naturally as a con- 
verted heart will love and pursue unholiness. 
You may recognize a Christian by his fruits as 
surely as you may understand that you cannot 
gather grapes from the bramble-bush, or figs from 
thistles. The Gospel never justifies a soul which 
it does not sanctify, and the pardon of sin is the 
parent of a holy life. 

This is the truth, then, that I wish were en- 
graven on every man's soul, viz : a cordial com- 
pliance with the Gospel and its simple terms of 
salvation, is not only not repugnant to practical 
holiness, not exclusive of a pure heart and life, 
but is the only source of godliness. The song of 
free grace only awakens affection for its author. 
Salvation without price is the amazing thought 
that fills the soul with wonder, love, and praise. 
The stooping of God to become man to atone for 
sin, because sin could not be pardoned without 
an atonement, so overawes the soul with the im- 
pression of God's jealous purity, that the converted 
sinner dare not sin if he would, and when he re- 
members that the atoning being is his own dear 
Friend and Saviour, he would not sin if he dared. 
There is to his breast no reflection so cheering as 
that when he glories he must glory in the Lord, 
that the pride of the flesh must be abased, and 
that God must be all in all. There is implanted 


in that breast the living germ of holiness, so that 
the child of the Gospel has a heart to sympathize 
with the angels, and with Christ, and with God, 
and whatever pleases them is most acceptable to 
him. It is not the servile consideration that he 
must be holy or die which influences his mind. 
It is not that he would prefer to sin, not even to 
retain a favourite sin, for sin is the object of his 
abomination. Self-denial is not a hardship, for 
the occasion to deny himself is only an opportu- 
nity to exercise and practise the love of Christ. 
Prayer will be delightful, for prayer will be com- 
munion with God. The outward duties and the 
inward graces will all find a place in the life and 
character of every instructed believer in Christ, 
for the spirit to be and to do all that becomes a 
child of God is a spirit that is begotten in him at 
the cross. A soul so conformed to God's will 
here is ready to join God in heaven. Come 
how and when the summons may, he can, with a 
full-hearted complacency, lay aside the robings 
of this life, business, friends, pleasures, riches, 
and step down with a manful courage into his 
grave, and dropping there the only remnant of 
his mortality, walk through the gate of death to 
hail his Redeemer, and feel entirely happ}^ that 
he is like him, and can see him as he is. Death 
ushers him to a new place, but it indues him with 


no new character. He enjoys God already. 
Whosoever is so imbued with this living power 
of holiness carries his heaven within him. There 
is not one of those exercises of the Christian at 
which we have glanced in this discourse, which 
is not like a well-spring of joy in his heart. 
Even in the mood that some might think the 
most sorrowful, he is happ3^,and his happiness is of 
the same grade, though not of such vast amount as 
that of heaven. Watch that penitent standing 
by the foot of the cross. His eye is turned up 
to the pierced and bleeding form extended there. 
There are tears in his eyes, there is sorrow graven 
on his countenance, his hands are clasped, and 
now and then you may see them pressed close 
together by a sort of spasm, and his lips move 
with an almost inarticulate sound. If you draw 
nearer, you can hear him say, " 'Twas for my 
sins my dearest Lord hung on the cursed tree, 
and groaned away his dying life. For thee, my 
soul, for thee." Now those tears, that subdued 
look, and the strain of his language, might lead 
one to suppose he was unhappy, but never was 
there a wider mistaking of the fact. He con- 
siders himself at this moment one of the most 
favoured of beings. He has never been the sub- 
ject of emotions so much hke bliss as his present 
feelings; and if, with the charitable design of 


drying up his tears and allaying his grief, you 
should take him by the hand to lead him away 
from that mournful tragedy he is contemplating, 
he would gaze upon you for an instant in sur- 
prise, withdraw his hand, and turn again to look 
into his Saviour's face. He has a "joy with which 
a stranger intermeddleth not." There is in his 
emotions a blending together of admiration, and 
reverence, and gratitude, and love, and hope, and 
humble views of himself, and noble resolves to- 
wards Christ, so that his whole conscious being 
is lost and swallowed up in God. You mistake 
the whole matter if you suppose that he is un- 
happy, or that you can mend his condition in the 
slightest measure. Now, if the sadness of a holy 
heart be so joyful, what must its exhilaration be? 
Less subduing, having less of the pathos of 
delight, but ravishing and ennoblmg still. And 
thus it is with his every day life. The affection 
becomes active. The principle is turned into 
practice, supreme love to God is in the heart, and 
its outgoing is holiness to the Lord. I have 
laboured thus far to exhibit the nature and the 
fruits of holiness in order to show how truly a holy 
person, a person conformed to God, may be said 
to be prepared for heaven. Let me endeavour, 
very briefly, to set in contrast to this the charac- 
ter of a man still in unholiness, and I think you 


will perceive that holiness is not only a qualifica- 
tion for heaven, but the only quaUficationj so that 
the unholy person cannot of necessity be a par- 
taker there. 

Unholiness is the want of supreme love to God, 
and, as the consequence of this, a want of recon- 
ciledness to God's character and rule. It would 
be enough for some minds to leave the subject 
here, for the very definition suggests the idea of 
a thorough repugnance to the heaven where God 
dwells. But to guard against a possible delusion, 
let me illustrate the truth by sketching a charac- 
ter of which our own observation has furnished 
some originals. Passing by the profligate, the 
profane, the Sabbath-breaker, the intemperate, 
the miserly, as the class of unclean ones who, the 
prophet says, shall not pass along the highway 
to heaven; let us suppose a man of morals un- 
impeachable, of generous affections, lofty senti- 
ments, and delicate perceptions of propriety. 
Add to these the decorations of winning social 
quahties, and high mental attainment and polish. 
Then scrutinize his deportment in religious mat- 
ters; see him punctually at his place in the house 
of God, a liberal supporter of religious institu- 
tions, and oftentimes, so far outstripping, in this 
respect, many who call themselves Christians, 
that it ought to put them to the blush. Why is 


not this man a candidate for the blessedness of 
God ? is the question. And the answer is, " Be- 
cause not any or all of these quahfications are of 
necessity equivalent to holiness." If there reside 
not in his heart one all-governing principle of 
love to God, and the entire surrender of his fac- 
ulties and himself to do the will of God, he is 
yet unholy. Whatsoever be the actuating mo- 
tives of his life, they spring from earth, not heav- 
en ; and therefore when you speak to him of see- 
ing God, he does not understand the phrase. 
But, besides these quahties,we repeatedly observe 
in men who are not Christians, a sort of persua- 
sion that they cherish a love for God. They 
have a general reverence for sacred things. They 
have been among the scenes of nature's terrible 
magnificence, and they thought they could adore 
and bow down in the presence of Omnipotence. 
They have made researches into nature's handi- 
craft, and exclaimed at the wisdom of the Omnis- 
cient. They have often pointed out with admi- 
ration, the beneficence of God strewed over the 
universe, and specially manifested in giving pros- 
perity to them. They feel they owe him their 
gratitude. They say they are grateful, and what 
more can you ask ? Is not this a true and suffi- 
cient love of God ? I answer, but 3'et not I, but 
God answers, "No." You can equally be made 


to feel your inferiority at any display of power 
and magnificencej whether ye suppose it to be 
natural or divine. You are inspired with a sort 
of reverence in beholding Niagara, whether 3^0 
believe its bed w^as dug by virtue of an inani- 
mate law, or by the finger of Jehovah. You feel 
belittled when tracing the intricacies of nature's 
works, whether the wisdom that appears in them 
be the fruit of the Divine mind or of a lucky 
chance. At best it is only a natural attribute 
that you admire. 

And so your eyes may be suffused at the 
thought of your blessings, whether you ascribe 
the credit of them to God, or to the inevitable 
tide in the affairs of men. But allowing after 
all it is the Deity himself who is loved, that 
Deity is not the Jehovah of the Bible. It is 
easy to array the character of God with a tissue 
of imaginary qualities, and then to bow down to 
the idol our fancies have shaped. There is one 
attribute of Jehovah, which the unrenewed man 
never loves. It is Jehovah's choicest attribute. 
He glories in it more than in all the rest. It is 
his bright and stainless holiness, his hatred of 
sin, his solemn and everlasting determination to 
punish and destroy sin. No human creature 
could ever bring himself to love and praise God 
for his holiness, until he had felt the evil of sin, 


and learned to loathe it in himself first of all. Is 
it natural or possible for a being who loves him- 
self best, to cherish an aifection for the pure God, 
when he is told there is something in his charac- 
ter which God detests? This is not the law of 
human sympathy and correspondence, and to say 
to such an one that his character as a sinner is 
hateful to God, is to arm his feelings Avith a triple 
mail of opposition. Sin must first be crucified and 
nailed to the cross, as an accursed thing, by the 
sinner himself, before he can even understand the 
glory of Jehovah's purity. How then is he pre- 
pared to enjoy the true God ? Transplant such 
a person within the walls of heaven, with his 
nature unchanged. Let him breathe that atmos- 
phere that has no taint of sin. Let him see every 
object graven with holiness, where the very light 
by which the soul sees, is the light of moral 
purity. Let him hear the music that swells forth 
always; the burden of whose chorus is, "Praise 
God in his holiness." Let him behold the army 
of the redeemed come marching up in their white 
robes of sinlessness, and cast their crowns at 
Jehovah's feet, and cry out with one loud peal of 
adoration, " Thou art worthy, for thou only art 
holy. Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty." 
The man of elegant but unsanctified character 
could not love it. It would wake up no response 


within him. This is not the God he thought he 
loved. That purity is intolerable to his sight. 
That music is discord to his soul. "Let me 
escape," he cries, "I have seen God. He is not 
the God that I imagined I loved, for he is a sin- 
hating God. Heaven is not the blessedness I 
used to dream of. My eternity is undone. I 
must go away among my kindred, the unholy; 
but give me wings, let me fly quick over these 
high walls, for every moment is wretchedness 
until I can reach the place where sin is not 
abhorred. Away, then, away from this intoler- 
able and eternal tide of praise." And away from 
the face of God he flies, and never enters heaven 
again. "Without holiness, no man can see the 



Philippians iv. 8. 


Christian piety is not only an inward but an 
outward grace. It is not only a life, but an or- 
nament. It is spiritual, and it is practical besides. 
It is an old and stereotyped charge against the doc- 
trines called evangelical, that they make a man's 
salvation depend so much upon his faith, as quite 
to obscure and shut out the duties of an every- 
day religion. This complaint has somewhat of 
plausibility, but it proceeds on a false view both 
of theology and of human nature. It is false 
theology to say that justification by faith excludes 
the duties of an outward godliness, because faith 
is itself the root of every pious vktue. And it 


is a false view of human nature, because when 
once the inward man is renewed by faith in 
Christ, the outward man is sure to exhibit a reno- 
vation of hfe, of morals, and of manners. There 
is no inconsistency then in exhorting a congre- 
gation of Christian believers, who ascribe their 
great spiritual change to the mere grace of God, 
to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, by 
adding to their characters one by one the whole 
catalogue of moral and social beauties. It is 
just as natural and just as necessary that the 
Christian should practise good works, as it would 
be if he expected to be saved by his own merits, 
instead of those of his Redeemer. No Christian 
teacher ever exhibited, with such clearness and 
emphasis, the nature of faith as the single ground 
of justification, as the great apostle, whose words 
are our text. And no one ever set forth as he 
did, with such breadth of view, the indispensable 
character of all good works as the condition of 
our advancement, and of our fitness for heaven. 
The text itself is an illustration in point. Ad- 
dressing those who seem to have been most ex- 
emplary in their adhesion to the faith of the 
gospel, he now exhorts them to be diligent and 
pains-taking in exhibiting the pattern of moral 
virtues wrought into their outward lives. In 
discoursing from these words of the apostle, there 


can be no better order of thought than the one 
he has chosen, and in follo^Ying this we have 
only to define the character of the various virtues 
which he enumerates in succession. 

First, " Whatsoever things are true," he says, 
"think on these things" — think on them, that is, 
to practise them. By the " things that are true," 
we may understand whatsoever has its basis in 
the revealed word of God, i.e. doctrinal truth; 
or again, it may signify that which is grounded 
in truthfulness of character, i. e. practical sin- 
cerity, simplicity of purpose, transparency of 
motive, genuineness of principle as opposed to 
double dealing, hypocrisy, or the left-handedness 
of expediency. If we regard it in the former of 
these senses, then it is an admonition to hold fitst 
to the great truths of the gospel ; to keep them in 
fixmiliar view as living truths ; to make them the 
man of our counsel, a light to our feet, and a lamp 
to our path ; to bring near to our minds the realities 
of an atoning cross, an interceding Saviour, an 
influential and present Spuit, a judguient bar, 
and an eternity beyond of ineffable brightness or 
unutterable gloom ; to make these things felt and 
realized as principles of action, and so to bring 
the heart under the influence of nobler and sub- 
limer impressions than can be drawn from any- 
thing sublunary. The eflect of this would be 


to turn our common life into a life of faith, look- 
ing at the things that are unseen and eternal. 
It would reduce to their true mferiority, the cares 
and griefs, as well as the enjoyments, of the world ; 
so that we should endure as seeing Him who is 
invisible; we should weep as though we wept 
not, and rejoice as though we rejoiced not; we 
should be anxiously careful for nothing, but in 
everything, by prayer and supplication, together 
w^ith thanksgiving, we should make known our 
requests unto God, and the peace of God which 
passeth understanding would keep our hearts 
and minds through Jesus Christ. Such would 
be the effect of due reflection upon the revealed 
truths of the gospel. 

But if by the words "whatsoever things are 
true," we understand the apostle to signify the 
traits which spring from sincerity or truthfulness 
of character, w^hich is the more probable supposi- 
tion, then w^e are introduced to a class of qual- 
ities more plain and tangible, though not more 
real or essential. Think, then, he says, upon the 
graces of a sincere disposition. They are, in fact, 
worthy to be thought of, if only for their rarity. 
And in saying so, I mean no broad satire upon 
human society, but only truth and soberness. 
For it is indeed quite remarkable how, of all 
human foibles, the want of sincerity appears 


historically to be the most common and frequent. 
It is remarkable how the conscience may be edu- 
cated to practise many duties with a religious 
scrupulousness, and to pass by, at the same time, 
some of the plainest requirements of truth be- 
tween man and man. From the earliest records 
of even sacred history, w^e learn how common 
was mutual deception, and how, with many traits 
of a better sort, there was mingled the -want of 
honest and truthful speech. The whole type of 
oriental morality, indeed, seems to be defective 
in this. Passionateness and imagination had so 
much to do in forming the oriental piety, as to 
throw quite into the background the common 
sensible virtue of veracity. Hence, even among 
the fathers of the primitive church, there seems 
to have been often a tolerance, if not a practice, 
of deception, which a tiaithful spirit must repu- 
diate and condemn. The very fervour of their 
religious zeal carried them beyond the bounds of 
ethical propriety. They learned to think that 
the end sanctified the means, that fraud was no 
sin if it were pious, and that a false miracle Avas 
made divinely true, if it were successful in mak- 
ing converts to the truth. But this unworthy 
trait was not confined to the early ages. The 
lying spirit is not an oriental demon alone. Al- 
though it took a more easy form, and found a 


more natural home in the unreasoning and imagi- 
native constitution of an eastern people, yet, 
wherever rehgion is one sided, and devotion out- 
grows morality, men will tell hes for their reli- 
gion, which they would scruple to utter for an 
inferior object. Wherever the imagination enters 
too largely into piety, or rather where religion is 
a matter either of mere sentiment and taste, or 
of plain flat bigotry, there is involved, in either 
form, so much of passion and propensity, as to 
overpower the conscience, and to warp the w^hole 
perception of moral right. Whether it be the 
eastern or the western mind, it is all the same. 
The spirit of Jesuitism, though its measures may 
be more dangerous when systematized by rule 
and adopted by a fraternity, is not less unhal- 
lowed, when you find it joined with an evangeli- 
cal faith and an American character. It is the 
same old Satan transforming himself again into 
an angel of light, for the poisoning of the faith, 
and the destruction of the saints. But even 
where rehgion is not the object, the spirit of in- 
sincerity may be traced in the common forms of 
Christian society. Many of the maxims of poli- 
tics, many of the practices of mercantile life, 
many of the rules of professional conduct, many 
of the laws of politeness and good breeding, 
even among Christian people, are based upon in- 


sincerity, deception and mere policy. They are 
all alilvc opposed to the simplicity and truthful- 
ness of character, which is commended by the 
apostle to our Christian thoughts. It is the 
more strange that this spirit of untruth should 
hold such sway in the religious forms of society, 
"when we remember that our God has declared 
himself pre-eminently a God of truth, and that 
in proportion to the dignity and lustre of this at- 
tribute, must be his hatred of whatsoever loveth 
or maketh a lie. To his immaculate truthfulness 
it would seem there could be nothing more odi- 
ous than deception, and not without a reason 
that is level to our own understanding. For sin- 
cerity is the basis of all noble and manly traits. 
It is the heroism of humanity, approaching more 
nearly the god-like than any other quality. It 
is the root of all courage and earnestness in re- 
ligious enterprize, at the same time that it is no 
less the life of private devotion. It imparts to 
confession all its generosity and dignity, to re- 
pentance all its renovating power, to faith its 
whole-hearted confidence, and to prayer and praise 
all their acceptableness to God. And, in our 
human relations, it is the basis of all honest deal- 
ing between man and man, rising above law, and 
above custom, and above prejudice, and interest, 
and fear. As it is Satan's opposite, so it is his 


most powerful antagonist. If he can only de- 
ceive us, or what is still better for him, make us 
deceive ourselves and others, then he is content. 
He has gained a new ally. He may fold his 
arms and sit aloof, and smile a sardonic smile, 
while his bosom boils with triumph against God 
and his grace, at the self-destruction of his saints. 
There is need of greater conscientiousness among 
Christian people, touching all the modes of direct 
and indirect deception. There is wanting a more 
powerful infusion of sincerity into the habits of 
society, and the private treatment by Christians 
of each other. Of all faults, the want of tliis is 
most radical and dangerous. Of all virtues, none 
is more lustrous and celestial. Whatsoever 
things are true, then let us think of these things. 
Again, says the apostle, "Whatsoever things 
are honest," think of these. By the word honest, 
we are to understand, not what is commonly de- 
noted by that word, fairness of dealing; but, as it 
is translated elsewhere, a gravity of manner, a 
reverend demeanour, a sound speech which can- 
not be condemned. Whatsoever then may be 
the appropriate manifestation of such high hopes 
and noble longings as are the Christian's privi- 
leged feelings, whatsoever is becoming in man- 
ner and conversation, in one who has an immor- 
tal birthright glowing like light before him, to 


which he asph^es with an enthusiasm that grasps 
every faculty, fastens every ambition, and nour- 
ishes every love; whatsoever is befitting the be- 
haviour of one whose familiar friend and compan- 
ion is Jesus Christ the Lord, think of it, says 
the apostle. Let such demeanour be yours. 

When Moses came down from the mountain^ 
there lingered upon his unconscious face the re- 
flected light of the Divine majesty. He needed 
not to say that he had communed with God. 
The clinging radiance betra^^ed him. His pres- 
ence beamed with the reverend glory, and they 
who saw him, saw him so changed that they 
would have veiled his countenance as if he were 
the insufferable Divinity itself. True godliness 
is a manifesting power. It must show itself. 
Among the various circumstances of social life, 
there will be some which bring out the true 
Christian almost in spite of himself. 

I do not mean to say that he who appears to 
be a Christian is always truly such, for even the 
fine gold may be counterfeited in colour, in splen- 
dour, in weight; and the counterfeit, while it is 
undetected, will be as useful currency, and buy 
as much as the true coin. But I simply mean, that 
though gold may be counterfeited, it cannot be 
thoroughly disguised. Its colour will be clearer 
on inspection, its brightness will shine more by 


attrition, and its solid ring will resound from the 
pavement the harder it is tried. So the true 
Christian, in proportion as he is true, will seem 
to be such. 

The sober earnestness of a heart converted 
from frivolity to solemn realizations, of a spirit pro- 
foundly peaceful, reposing in Jehovah's arms, of 
a temper changed from gross and carnal to angelic, 
and of desires and affections binding his heart like 
chains to the throne of God his Saviour. Such 
a sober earnestness, not morose, but calm, not 
dull and uncheerful, but still not wildly gay, will 
be the habitual temper and manifestation of the 
true Christian. Others will take knowledge of 
him, that he has been with Jesus. There wiU 
go forth from his very silent presence a restraint 
upon ungodliness. A gentle and reverend light 
will betoken him. Pie will be felt in society, 
beneficially and thankfully felt, even by the 
thoughtless and desperate. 

This is the living epistle of which St. Paul 
speaks, known and read of all men. It con- 
strains the regard of men, and makes them rev- 
erence the Gospel. It is a powerful mode of 
influence, and, let me add, one of the easiest, as 
it is the most appropriate. Whatsoever things 
then are reverend, grave and seemly in a child 
of God, oh! think of them, and make them 


yours. Let your manner be sober, your deport- 
ment serious, your conversation rational and edi- 
fying, that your friends may feel, when you have 
been with them, that they have breathed the 
odour of a better life. 

Again, "Whatsoever things are just, think on 
these things." Here is an exhortation to simple 
fairness and integrity among men. This is one 
of the elementary rules of moral j^hilosophy, not 
grafted upon the gospel, but springing out of it, 
and showing that, rightly understood, religion 
and morality are of the same stock. Be just in 
your dealings with mankind. Be no respecter 
of persons. Do not cringe to wealth, and state, 
and power, and tyrannize over poverty and mis- 
fortune. Remember that the vilest offcast whom 
society has ever branded, has a claim upon the 
most virtuous for sympathy and help; not the 
claim of mercy, which you may hear at a lofty 
distance and stoop as by a condescension to an- 
swer, but the claim of absolute and imperative 
justice as your brother or sister in human nature, 
Avhich you are bound to listen to — standing on 
their level, in contact with them — to hear their 
case, to supply their need, to right their wrong. 
Justice is a pagan virtue indeed, but so it is a 
Christian; and it is both pagan and Christian, 
because it is a human duty, a universal dut}^, a 


perpetual duty. Do not think you can be un- 
just and be a Christian too. And remember that 
justice is not measured always by human laws. 
They are narrow, local, changeable. They some- 
times make right wrong, and wrong right. The 
law may wink at many an unfair dealing, which 
God will not away with. You ma}^ defraud a 
creditor, or grind the face of the poor, or make 
gain out of a friend's misfortune, instead of reliev- 
ing it, and all the while no human statute shall 
be able to grasp that felony of the heart. But 
oh ! to God's bar let the unfortunate one appeal, 
and you are defaulted. There is the true appeal. 
There rises, in pure glory, the eternal standard 
of rectitude by which you must be judged, by 
wdiich you should judge. Justice is higher than 
law. It is commensurate with mercy. Human 
mercy is only justice. "Whatsoever things are 
just, then think on these things." 

Again, " Whatsoever things are pure, think on 
these." By purity we may understand freedom 
from those carnal lusts and appetites which make 
a sensualist. It is an exhortation to spiritual- 
mindedness. In a soft and sensual age, Christi- 
anity had a mission of no easy accomplishment. 
Less sensual our generation may be, but where 
there are senses there will be sensual induce- 
ments. How antagonistic to godliness the habit 


of impurity is, it needs no homily to show. It is 
the precise opposite of a spiritual mind, fitted by 
its very shape and power to contradict every im- 
pulse of piety. It deadens every holy sensibility. 
It drains the very j^ith and marrow of the moral 
frame, leaving it only a stark skeleton in ghastly 
disease. When it seizes on the thoughts it per- 
verts every faculty. It looks at everything through 
the medium of lust. All taste, all sentiment, all 
affection, all intercourse becomes poisoned by this 
leaven of grossness. To the pure, says the 
apostle, all things are pure; but unto them 
that are defiled nothing is pure, but even their 
mind and conscience is defiled. They profess 
that they know God, but in works they deny 
him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto 
every good work reprobate. I would not desire, 
even if I could, to deepen the solemnity of this 
declaration. Fearful enough it is to think of the 
soul's eye, so bleared with the humours of its 
lusts as to distort its vision, and turn everything 
it sees into corruption, and to remember that only 
the pure in heart can see God, or appreciate his 
holiness, or enjoy his love. Let the Christian 
guard against it in thought, no less than in act. 
Let him check the roving eye, and cast away the 
licentious book, and purify his spirit with the in- 
cense of prayer, in order to be as becomes a 
brother or sister of the spotless Saviour. 


Again, "Whatsoever things are lovely, think 
on these things." Besides the honest, stahvart 
virtues of truth and justice — besides the healthful 
attributes of soberness and purity, we are now 
told the Christian must be endued with qualities 
of another sort, namely, ornamental qualities. 
We must have whatsoever is lovely in character 
and manner. This seems at first view to be a 
minute and unworthy injunction to be set forth 
with the solemnity of apostolic authority. Shall 
the Christian, whose soul is engrossed with the big 
realities of an eternal world, fritter aAvay his 
regard upon traits of character which, to speak 
the best of them, are only lovely? Shall he 
study the proprieties of mere manner? Yes, 
my brethren, so says our inspired teacher. Think 
on whatsoever is lovely, in order to practise it. 
It was not without reason that the ancients de- 
nominated manners as the lesser morals. Good 
manners are the polish of society, even as good 
morals are its golden band. Morals are the 
security, manners are the beauty, of the social 
state. As those render it safe to live with our 
fellows, so these make it pleasant. Society 
cannot subsist at all without something of what- 
soever is just and true, and neither can it subsist 
happily without something of whatsoever is 
lovely. The kind speech, the gentle demeanour, 


the amiable sympathy, the tender forbearance of 
insult, the accommodation to others' weaknesses, 
kindness to inferiors, deference to superiors, 
frankness to equals, affability and goodness to all, 
the waiving of precedence, consideration shown 
even to prejudice and unreasonableness — these 
lovely things, the constituents of good breeding, 
are like a necklace of pearls for the adornment 
of society. Without them the dwelling-place of 
society would be a stye — with them it is a palace ; 
nay more, it is a sweet and beautiful home. They 
are bounden Christian duties, because good 
breeding is but the garb of benevolence, and it 
shoAvs how essential to human happiness benevo- 
lence is, that society even assumes the virtue if 
she has it not. 

But the Christian does not falsely assume it. 
Benevolence is the human direction of his religion. 
And he is bound to act it out in all the loveliness 
of good manners, because he professes to have its 
principle dwelling with a living power in his 
heart. No man should be so well-bred as the 
Christian, not indeed in the training of artificial 
and fashionable modes, but by the instinctive 
promptings of the Holy Ghost, leading him not 
only to be benevolent, but to seem what he is. 
Whatsoever things are lovely then in deportment 
and life, think on them, fellow-christians, as your 
serious duties. 


And noWj finally^ "Whatsoever things are of 
good report, if there be any virtue, if any praise, 
think on these things." Here is a plain intimation 
that the Christian is to regard in his conduct the 
opinion of others. Not that he may sacrifice his 
principles, or ever be anything than what is con- 
sistent with grave and solemn duty. But he is 
to take heed that good be not evil spoken of He 
is to adorn the doctrine of God the Saviour, not 
only by solid virtues and lovely traits and graces, 
but by consulting even the opinions of the wise 
and considerate in things which might not be in 
themselves wrong and sinful. The apostle thus 
suggests a subject which opens largely into the 
discussion of the influence of example on the 
reputation of religion as a Christian motive, a 
discussion too large for our present opportunity. 
I have only time to commend it to your con- 
sciences, and to remind you how the eyes of a 
gainsaying world are fixed upon the Church, and 
how its carping tongue is read}^ to utter cavil and 
contempt against the followers of Jesus, and to 
reproach every one who mingles in its loved 
scenes of questionable purity and its practices of 
doubtful morality; which, to say the least, give 
the Christian soul no edification, no added fitness 
for heaven, which inspire no purer hope, nor 
more spiritual joy, but rather deaden the already 
living impulses of God within him. 


Avoid them then, clear brethren, if they be not 
of good report, turn from them and pass away, 
be contented with purer associations, be satisfied 
with the holy reflection that shall give peace to 
your death-bed and rapture to your eternity, that, 
so far as you were concerned, you kept the robe 
of Christ which you wore on earth pure from all 
fdthiness, or stigma, or reproach. 

If ye do these things ye shall never fall, and 
the peace of God, which passeth understanding, 
shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus 
Christ. Amen. 



1 Peter iv. 18. 

" If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the un- 
godly AND the sinner APPEAR?" 

The apostle does not say, " If the righteous be 
saved," as if there were any doubt on that question ; 
but if they "scarcel?/ be saved/' implying that, 
however sure their salvation may be, it is to 
be secured against many difficulties and severe 

It is plain that there is no expressed doubt of 
the final triumph of the righteous. It seems to 
be a part of the Divine plan to single out the 
Christian for peculiar trials from which the com- 
mon multitude are exempted. It seems to belong 
to the very nature of the Christian life, to meet 
with trials and anxieties which can happen to 
none but a Christian. Although from one point 
of view it is an easy and a dehghtful thing to be 
a Christian, from another it is a most anxious and 
IG (181) 


difficult undertaking. Viewed from that high 
level on which eternity shines, from whence we 
behold the blissful issue to which the Christian 
path leads on, and viewed by one who can under- 
stand the superior sources of joy which the Chris- 
tian has in himself and in God, the Christian life 
seems a w^ay of pleasantness and all its paths 
seem peace. But viewed by the light of this life, 
and in reference to the common principles of flesh 
and blood, the course of piety is a long endurance, 
which has but little to interest and nothing to 
captivate the common heart of the w^orld. 

For the Christian is made of flesh and blood 
as well as of soul and spirit, and his lower nature 
will very often make itself heard and felt in the 
agony of its trial, in spite of those celestial im- 
pulses and those inspiring views of Divine things 
which would otherwise make his life an antici- 
pated heaven. It is these trials of our natural 
constitution which make up the difficulties of the 
Christian life. They are real trials, verj^ severe 
and very formidable. 

I shall, therefore, invite you to consider the 
subject implied by the expression, "If the 
righteous scarcely be saved." That subject ma}'' 
be entitled, "The difficulties in the way of a 
Christian's salvation." 

It is quite plain that, however sure the way of 


a godly man may be, and however matchless the 
eternal weight of his bliss be3^ond the grave, 3^et 
he is saved with great difficulty after all. He is 
just saved and no more. His path to glory lies 
along the very brink of ruin. His salvation will 
be a wonder to all eternity. 

Salvation began in difficulty. In the counsels 
of God there was an apparent opposition to mercy. 
Confficting attributes of Jehovah, to speak after 
the manner of men, conflicting attributes hard to 
be reconciled, and the plan of redemption was to 
human eyes a compromise. Justice and truth 
were at strife with compassion. How long the 
travail of our peace lasted we are not told. But 
it was not developed until after weary ages of 
man's unmitigated sin. And if there was diffi- 
culty in the conception so there was in the exe- 
cution of our redemption. The supernatural had 
to clothe itself with the natural. God had to 
encompass himself with man. The Infinite had 
to stoop down and enter within the finite. That 
which seems absurd in reasoning, paradoxical in 
statement, and impossible in fact, had to be com- 
pletely effected before salvation, as a scheme, 
could be finished. So difficult a thing to be con- 
quered, even by omnipotent love, is human sin. 
And this wonderful arrangement makes the salva- 
tion of man the perpetual myBiery of redemption. 


And on the cross, where all the mighty plan was 
wrought out, our faith, like a telescope, brings 
into open view the difficulty which was felt in 
heaven to be in the way of human happiness. 
The crucifixion was the last agony of that dilli- 
culty. As it showed the plan to be practicable, 
so it showed how near it came to an impossibility. 
Nature herself could not yield her consent to the 
awful fact without a mighty travail. The heavens 
and the earth sympathized with the Divine diffi- 
culty with groans, and trembling, and dark 
mourning. We shall see no such revelation of 
Divine things again, until we see the difficulty 
unfolded in all its length and breadth in the con- 
summation of the judgment day. 

These were what w^e may call the Divine 
obstacles to our salvation, and when we survey 
and estimate them, it seems as if man, though 
redeemed, was scarcely redeemed by the cross. 
Just redeemed, no more. And this view, being 
finished, might lead us to turn our minds to see 
how this redemption of all mankind was to be 
turned into salvation for its individual members. 

If the Divine difficulty was so great, what 
must the human difficulties be? We might ex- 
pect that salvation would not be easy to us, which 
was so full of difiiculty to God himself With 
all the obduracy of that most impenetrable thing, 


an unhumbled heart, and with all the stiffness of 
a depraved will bent away from all good and holy 
actions, the work of regeneration seems to be a 
process at least as difficult as creation, the mak- 
ing of something out of nothing; nay, more diffi- 
cult, for in creation there w^as only something to 
he made, but in regeneration there is something to 
be fu^st unmade. In the former there was, to say 
the most, only a negative resistance to no being; 
but in the latter, there is the active and strong 
repugnance of an angry will. The whole living 
nature of man was a difficulty. 

And there will be difficulties springing out of 
the same corruption of nature as it is influenced 
by a tempting world without, and tempting spirits 
within. Although regenerated, the Christian is 
neither glorified nor translated. He is a denizen 
of a corrupted earth, the possessor of a sensitive 
nature, and, therefore, oftentimes the victim of a 
cunning foe. 

The Scriptures commonly represent a life of 
piety as a wrestling, a w^arfare, a pilgrimage, a 
race. It is not an easy slide into salvation. It 
is not a quiet and dozing journey, by which we 
are drawn along through life in pleasant dreams 
and wake up in heaven. The inducements of life 
and society, howsoever good in their right use, 
become the tempting causes of sin to the best 


men, engrossing the thoughts, then the sensibili- 
ties, and then the heart, until the whole consent- 
ing man is in danger of being sacrificed 

The chief danger of the world to Christian men 
and women is, that they will not only use it but 
serve it. It is not that a blight and curse has 
passed over everything that God has made, so 
that it is all bad and only bad. Nature is sweet, 
and society is sweet, and life is a blessing in it- 
self, and business and recreation are both neces- 
sary to the sustaining and recruiting of our lives- 
Wealth is not necessarily an evil. It is only the 
love of it which is the deep root of evil. Genius, 
strength, beauty, accomplishments, are not the 
spontiineous sources of sin. They are each and 
all so many Divine gifts and talents, and their 
use and enjoyment is not a crime, but a 
chartered privilege and a bounden duty. They 
ought to be to the Christian what they would be 
to an angel, high and virtuous incitements, waking 
up the soul to gratitude and adoration of the 
Giver, soliciting forth noble impulses of duty, 
glad returns of love and an entire devotion to 
his glory. 

The great temptation of the Christian is to 
inordinate affection, loving all these things better 
than they deserve, exalting means into ends, 
making that an object which was meant to be 


only an occasion. His regard for the world is 
liable to degenerate into a passion. His com- 
merce with the world may easily become too 
much. His rehsh of life and its good things, 
his hurrying chase of business or pleasure, then 
take on the odious character of idolatry. He 
loves the creature more than the creator. The 
voice of conscience is smothered; the view of 
eternity becomes rare and unpleasant ; the state 
of his soul is forgotten and not inquired into; 
until, if he goes on thus, his nature becomes 
steeped in worldliness, and his spirit grows drun- 
ken and insensible. That Christian has virtually 
another God, whether it be pleasure, or fashion, 
or reputation, or money, or sensual ease. His 
heart is a desecrated temple, whose altar is torn 
down, whose proportions are broken, and whose 
sacred adornments are dismantled and trodden. 
The common air of the world whistles and howls 
through it, instead of God's melodies ; and foul 
birds and vermin dwell where the Holy Ghost 

And this all comes of the excessive tampering 
with innocent pursuits and pleasures. It comes 
from abusing the world in its use. It comes 
from easily deciding that because a thing was not 
a sin in itself, therefore no use of it could be 
sinful. It comes from an outward habit of too 


much engagement witli the world, and this habit 
came from the want of an inward motive of do- 
ing everything, and using everything, in" subor- 
dination to the Divine will. 

The only safeguard against all this, is to make 
the glory of God the supreme aim of his life. 
To use all things, and enjoy all things, as if God's 
eye were ujDon him, and he was to render him an 
immediate account. He is in no danger from the 
world while the world is outside of him, while 
he looks at it as a thing separated from himself, 
to be used but not to be identified with his feel- 
ings, or his life. 

The danger from the world is, when it creeps 
into our hearts and fills and crowds the place of 
our affections, where God should be. Worldli- 
ness consists in the world that is within us, not 
in the world that is without. 

I speak not now of practices and pursuits 
which are immoral and confessedly bad. I sup- 
pose the Christian exempted, by his regeneration, 
from the power of such things. But I speak 
only of such as are innocent in themselves, or so 
plausible that they can easily represent them- 
selves as innocent. They have an allowed place 
in our hearts ; we fondle them, nurse them, miss 
them when they are absent, until, bye and bye, 
they insidiously grow to master us, lulling us 


with dreamy music, twining silken cords round 
our affections, one by one, until, Avlien we awake, 
we find ourselves fixed in immovable apostasy 
from all holy delights. No common might can 
then free us ; no usual solicitation of God's sweet 
spirit can dissolve the endearment of that charm. 
In a sort of giddy, delirious joy, we hug the 
dear world, and shut our ears to conscience and 

Oh! it needs much light from God, a clear 
view of consequences, a simple and sincere faith, 
and a most pui'e and honest conscience. A soul 
ought to be very familiar with eternity to judge 
rightly of such things. A Christian ought to 
realize his death-bed every day, in order to be 
safe from mistake ; and above all things he ought 
to be so accustomed to ask counsel of his Saviour, 
that his mind shall always be able to test a ques- 
tion of duty, with a Divine discretion. And 
when we remember how many, and how pleasant 
those delights are, and mark how many followers 
of Jesus have fallen away from him through 
such entanglements, it seems strange that any 
can be saved, and we cannot help thinking they 
can '^ scarccli/ be saved." 

And another difficulty of salvation lies not in 
worldly indulgence, but in the tendencies of our 
moral disposition. Besides the outward tempta- 


tions of life, our inward impulses become sources 
of sinning, far more hard to be repressed than 
mere worldly conformity. Pride, and suspicion, 
and envy, and uncharitableness, have no outward 
sign, no visible form by which we know when 
they invade our souls. AVe can see, and touch, 
and handle the objects of the w^orld, and, if they 
come too near our hearts, we can repel them. If 
wx feel that we are enslaved to any worldly 
thing, we know where to strike in order to break 
the chain that binds us to it. But the insidious- 
ness of our moral propensities, makes them our 
most dangerous foes. While we are watching 
the enemy that is seen, we are ambushed by one 
that is hidden. One may be very exemplar}^ in 
his abstinence from the world, who is blindly 
wicked in his social human feeling. He may be 
punctilious in his devotions, and his very pra3^ers 
may be conceived in such a temper as to nourish 
his ill nature and his spu'itual pride. Christ's 
gentle spirit is oftener w^ounded by malevolence 
burrowing in the heart, and far more keenly 
w^oundcd, than by the thoughtless addiction of 
the Christian to too much of the world. It is 
harder to be a mild and forgiving Christian, than 
it is to be an anchorite — harder to be humble, 
than to wear sackcloth — to be penitent, than to 
do penance. It is easier to pray aU day, than it 


is not to be proud that we pray; easier to regu- 
late our lives, than to keep our hearts. Love is 
the tenderest, and the vital cord of the Christian 
life, yet love is more sinned against by the Chris- 
tian, than any other virtue. 

Often, under a sanctimonious air, will be 
cloaked the spirit of discontent, and fault-find- 
ing, and uncharitable surmisings of heart, some- 
times breaking out in unfriendly words, and 
^vicked gossip, and false accusations, that show 
more clearly the foulness of their source, than 
the fault of their subject. They prove, at least, 
that there is one wicked Christian who has many 
difficulties of the worst sort to overcome, before 
he can be saved. I say many difficulties, for he 
who violates Christian love, has to sacrifice all 
the beautiful attendants which wait at her door : 
humility, and gentleness, and single-heartedness, 
and honesty towards God and men, and the outer 
guard of all, a pure tongue. And the foul feel- 
ings that enter in, are pride, boasting itself better 
than his neighbour ; envy, glad to detract from 
his neighbour's excellence ; sophistication of heart, 
practised in its own corruption; deceitfulness, 
wearing the appearance of a friendship it does 
not feel. 

To attemper the soul to love, to have it always 
kind and considerate to others' w^eaknesses, to 


restrain the tongue from scandal, and the feelings 
from suspicion, to hide the fault we see from en- 
vious and gloating eyes, to mourn over a friend's 
foibles as if they were our own, to mourn over 
them as Christ does, and pray for them as he 
prays, with patient intercession, night and day ; 
this is a dear accomplishment which is beyond 
our easy reach. It is a difficulty in our wa}^ so 
great that when we think of it, it seems as if the 
best of us could scarcely be saved. 

I said that when we offend against love, w^e 
commit many sins in one. The vices are an un- 
weaned brood. They go in flocks. AVhere one 
enters, they all nestle together, and the danger 
of the Christian is, that in the careless guarding 
of his heart, they will creep in while he thinks 
least of them, and turn his heart to a cage of 
unclean birds. 

Whether it be pride satisfied or mortified — 
whether it be love of admiration, or of notice 
from others, or discontent at Providence, or any 
other sinful feeling, it rarel}^ enters alone into the 
heart. It never can day alone — no true Chris- 
tian virtue can live with it long. It destroys all 
that is good within. It surreptitiously betrays 
the soul into the hands of the great enemy, and 
gives it up to be lost. 

It is a very mournful view of human nature, 


and seems to make but little of the power of re- 
generation. But it is a true view of much of 
the life that is commonly called Christian. It 
does not, however, derogate any thing from Di- 
vine grace, though it brand with flagrant condem- 
nation this too frequent alliance of human pride 
and human depravity — real imbecility Avith fan- 
cied strength. "Thou thinkest that thou art 
rich and increased in goods, and knowest not 
that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, 
and blind, and naked." 

And these are difficulties which the righteous 
Christian feels the most fearfully, for the very 
reason that he is not their victim. Those per- 
sons who yield to them, are generally unconscious 
of their power, and yield sweetly and content- 
edly. But the conscientious and self-suspecting 
Christian watches his ow^n heart, and he sees 
these enemies, which his own spirit has begotten, 
prowling for a stolen entrance, and he fears, and 
weeps, and prays sometimes with agony. And 
if his anxious conscience ever detects one of 
these foul, secret things crouching down in the 
corners of his heart, he will struggle with it, and 
fight against it with every weapon he can lay his 
hand upon, and his conscience will not be still, 
nor allow him to be so, until he has torn it from 
his heart, and barred the door against its return. 


In the thonirlit of such thing's do we not mus- 
ingl}^ say, ''If the righteous scarcel}" be saved" — 
saved with scarcit}^ Avith nothing to spare? 

And now let me detain you a httle longer, to 
mention another great difficulty in the way of the 
salvation even of the righteous — I mean the diffi- 
culty of resisting Satan's power. 

This is a difficulty that in one sense is outward, 
and in another sense inward. His power comes 
from abroad, but it operates within spiritualh\ 
It is a startling thought, even at first sight, that 
there is such a being as he, mighty in his intelli- 
gence and in his permitted power, and so very 
malignant in his designs. An archangel ruined 
is no despicable foe, if he turn his deliberate 
strength against us. Salvation is no tilting of a 
gala day, if it is to be won by conquering him. 
An unseen enemy never sleeping, watching our 
weak points, knowing our besetting sins, and 
skilled to use everything without and within us 
to hurt our souls, and with a maUce whetted to the 
keenest purpose of destruction, is too much of a 
foe to be despised or parleyed with. He seizes 
the world, and dresses it in ten thousand bright 
and meretricious beauties to captivate us. He 
\siys hold of our propensities and lusts, and makes 
them pierce our own souls. He foments our 
envy, and ill-will, and uncharitableness. He even 


perverts our religious feelings, and makes our 
fliith, and hope, and devotion, the oc-casions of 
our sm, so that our holy things have need of 
God's mercy. He aggravates every natural 
temptation, and makes temptations of those which 
are not naturally such. He dresses up our 
character vdth inconsistencies, and makes cari- 
cature Christians who think themselves true. 

And then he makes glee and mockery of our 
faults, and glories against God whenever he can 
persuade a Christian to be satisfied with himself, 
and to think himself very pious. It is he who is 
the destroyer, and many a follower of Jesus has 
been his victim. It is against him that the 
Christian warfare is to be waged with patience, 
fortitude, and constant watching. 

But one thing is plain, the opposition of this 
great foe seems to reduce the chances of salvation 
to so few, that we can see what the Scriptures 
mean when they say, "If the righteous scarcely 
be saved." 

My brethren, in reviewing these difficulties of 
the Christian life, how much there is to discourage 
a timid person from pursuing it! Let me say 
then again, that, formidable as they are, they are 
not invincible. They have been conquered by a 
multitude which no man can number, who, with 
crowns, and palms, and white robes, are rejoicing 


in the glory of the Lamb whom they so faithfully 
followed. Through Christ strengthening them, 
they came olf conquerors and more than conquer- 
ors. Weak in themselves, they were mighty 
through God. They used the world as not 
abusing it. They subdued the flesh with all its 
profane and malignant desires; and they fought 
with the great enemy Apollj^on, and by faith in 
Jesus they even made him flee. And though, 
with many a misgiving and many a wound, they 
were saved — scarcely saved indeed, with no super- 
fluous strength, not a single endeavour too much, 
but saved nevertheless — saved from the death of 
the soul, saved without a wound unhealed, in the 
bosom of God forever and ever. 

And from that place of safety they look down 
upon their pilgrimage. They can trace it as it 
ran along the brink of the dreadful downfall, up 
every steep rock, and down into every deep glen 
and mire. They remember the fierce fights with 
Satan, and recognise each place of conflict by the 
blood stains from their wounded souls. They 
can count their stopping places for prayer, for the 
grass grows green on the spots which Avere 
watered by their tears. And they can tell every 
point where their feet had well nigh slipped, nnd 
the dark recesses where they stumbled and fell. 
As they survey all this, and now, for the first 


time, learn how near they came to death, they 
feel that they were saved with difficulty. But 
they are saved after all, and they turn with a 
shuddering delight to embrace their living Saviour, 
from whom they shall be separated no more. 

Such honour have all his saints, and so shall 
we have if we are faithful, and loving, and 




Matthew xiv. 31. 


I USE these words for our text, because they 
are the closing part of a story, full of beautiful 
instruction, on which I design to offer a practical 

The Lord Jesus had sent his disciples in a ship, 
to cross the sea of Tiberias, while he remained 
to dismiss the multitude. Then, retiring to a 
mountain, he lingered until the evening in soli- 
tary prayer. IIow sweet must that devotion 
have been, which the beloved Son poured into 
the Father's ear! IIow exalted the communion 
of spirit, when the Saviour withdrew from the 
world, his soul unspotted by its pollution, and 
unsophisticated by its deceits, and drawing near 
to the fountain of tenderness, laid his head upon 
his Father's bosom ! What intimacy of Divine 
affection did that lonely mountain witness ! The 



air of that solitude was filled with the gushings 
of such prayer as no heart but that of Jesus 
ever offered. The Bethel where Jacob wrestled 
with God in the strife of prayer, was not so me- 
morable to holy hearts as that mountain spot. 

And then, what a burden of interests was 
borne on the wings of his strong desires ! When 
he went to pray to God, he carried on his heart 
the destinies of the world he came to redeem. 
He began, on earth, the intercession which he 
now liveth to make, day and night, in heaven. 
He prayed for his disciples, for us; that, when 
Satan desired to sift us as wheat, our faith might 
not fail. And, besides this, he prayed for him- 
self, that his humanity might not shrink from 
the bloody trial of atonement. When Ave see 
the Lord of our souls so fervently anxious for 
their salvation, let us not be careless of their 
welfare : and when we remember that even the 
immaculate Jesus loved the place of solitary 
meditation and prayer, let us, whose need is so 
much greater than his, be often alone with God ; 
echoing, with our souls, the spirit of Christ. 

And let us bear in comfortable thought, that 
when his disciples are far away on the billows, 
tossed on the troubles of the times, the watchful 
Redeemer is praying for them still, and consult- 
ing with God for their safety. 


For the narrative tells us that the ship in 
which the disciples were, "was now in the midst 
of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was 
contrary." The evening had come, and their be- 
loved Master came not. Night had Mien all 
around them, and they were buffeting the winds 
and w\aves in absolute cheerlessness. The sea 
w^as not large, but large enough to drown their 
little bark, as if it were an ocean. Desponding 
thoughts may have come across their minds, for 
they grievously missed their Master. They 
knew that he could still the winds and the waves, 
and if he were only asleep in their little cabin, 
they could awake him, and say, "Lord, carest 
thou not that we perish ?" and then they would 
be content. 

And why should he send them out on such a 
comfortless and dangerous expedition, and he 
stay behind? If he could only be the sharer of 
their trials, to speak a word of sympathy and 
cheer them by his presence, their condition would 
be more tolerable — but to be left alone upon the 
w^aters, in this dead night of the tempest, was a 
disheartening thing. We may see in this the pic- 
ture of much of our Christian experience. It 
may be all daylight, and a quiet sea, when we 
unmoor our souls for the vo3^age of religion. It 
was the word of Jesus which constrained us to 


go; and while the heavens were fair, we sailed 
on hopefully, and were cheered by the remem- 
brance of the Saviour, as we parted from him on 
the shore. But, bye and bye, there comes a 
twilight to our hope, and we miss the Lord. We 
see divine things dimly; the shadows of night 
settle more thickly about us. Persecution or re- 
proach buffets us like a contrary wind, and we 
find ourselves in the midst of afflictions, like an 
angry sea, till we cry out, "All thy waves and 
thy billows are gone over me." We know not 
that Jesus is praying for us ; we seem to be all 
alone in life ; and we wonder how religion can be 
called a way of pleasantness, and her path a path 
of peace. We remember the pleasant days of 
our early religious experience, and we long for 
the blessedness we knew, and the soul-refreshing 
views of Jesus. And so we sail in these dark 
waters, as the disciples did through the first, and 
the second, and the third watches of the night; 
till our troubles grow even darker than the mid- 
night, and a sullen gloom hems us around in 

Now God is not ignorant of these prospective 
trials. He designs them indeed for our higher 
sanctification. In very few instances, if in any, 
does the heart of a Christian learn the whole les- 
son of faith at once. The first impressions of 


our religious state are so very joyous, and shed 
over the heart such a sweet peace, that Avhile we 
heartily ascribe all the glory to Divine grace, we 
are prone still to think more of the peace than of 
the grace. We are engrossed by a conscious- 
ness, such as w^e never had before, that we are 
changed and regenerated creatures. When we 
come to Christ, w^e have a repose of mind, so 
different from the anxiety and fear that have 
agitated us before, that it is like rest to a w^eary 
labourer — and w^e fall quickly asleep, thinking 
that we are leaning securely on the bosom of 
Jesus. In this state of spiritual torpor, we are 
liable to forget that ours is a holy calling, and 
we fall insensibly into a state of carnal and 
worldly-minded security. 

To bring us out of this state of insensibility, 
God arouses us by some providential dispensa- 
tion, wdiich troubles and afflicts our souls. Sick- 
ness, or bereavement, or the loss of property, or 
the falseness of trusted friends, drives us to seek 
consolation from something higher than the world. 
But when we look around for Christ, we remem- 
ber that we parted with him on the shore. We 
trusted so much more to the pleasant change, 
than to the Saviour wlio ]»ro(lu('e(l it; to our in- 
ward feelings, than to an absent Christ; that we 
have grown estranged from him, and now w^e are 


ready to despair. Our sorrow overwlielms ns 
like a sea-wave. We reel to and fro^ and stagger 
beneath the storm of trouble; and so we pass 
through the several stages of trial, each growing 
darker than the last, like the night watches, till 
we are past the very midnight of our dark grief, 
and lie helplessly down, convinced that we can 
do nothing, and fearing that we shall sink and 
lose our salvation at last. 

"But this is our infirmity," as the Psalmist 
says, and we should " remember the years of the 
right hand of the Most High." Man's extremity 
is God's opportunity; and "whom the Lord lov- 
eth, he chasteneth." The trials which he sends 
are designed to teach us the lesson of faith, 
which Ave learned so imperfectly at first. We 
always estimate the preciousness of the Saviour, 
by our own need of him ; and we never can know 
the delight there is in his love, till we have been 
brought to feel the entire worthlessness of the 
world, and are driven to make him our all in all. 

This is the sweetness of adversity — and the 
sequel of the story shows that Christ is nearest, 
when he is most needed. As it is always dark- 
est before day, so Jesus waited until the fourth 
watch of the night, and then he appeared walk- 
ing on the sea. 

Whether it was by attenuating his own body 


to the consistency of a spirit, and suspending 
the power of gravitation, or by condensing the 
liquid pavement into a solid foothold, that this 
miracle was done, w'e are not informed. But we 
know whose prerogative it is alone to "tread 
upon the weaves of the sea;" and "whose path is 
in the mighty w^aters;" and this act is an attesta- 
tion that Jesus is the sovereign of the elements, 
and that "all things were made for him, and by 
him all things consist." " Thy way, oh God, is 
in the sea." 

We see, moreover, that not only docs the Sav- 
iour wait till we are convinced we have no other 
helper, but when he approaches, he may come in 
an unexpected way. When, in their extremity, 
the disciples longed for him more eagerly than 
they who watch for the morning, they doubtless 
thought that they should not see him again till 
they had reached the shore. But Christ comes 
in his own w\ay, and that, sometimes, so strange 
a way, that his very presence disturbs and terri- 
fies us. We do not recognize him, in the ghostly 
form that Ave see moving on the surface of our 
troubles, and our minds being possessed with the 
persuasion that we are deserted, this new appear- 
ance seems only like an added trouble to our 
peace. For, "when the disciples saw him walk- 
ing on the sea, they said, It is a spirit, and cried 


out for fear." How many a trembling soul has 
been affrighted at the presence of the Saviour; 
treatmg him as a messenger of evil tidings, and 
wishing him away ! How many a person, in the 
deep night of his convictions, knew not that the 
l^resence which tortured his soul was Christ's 
own spiiit of salvation ! 

But mark his method of assurance. Straight- 
way, Jesus spake unto them, saying, "Be of 
good cheer, it is I, be not afraid." Winning 
words — words of friendship; spoken, too, in the 
confidence of reciprocal friendship. He does not 
announce himself as to a stranger. He does not 
say, as he said to his persecutor Saul, "I am 
Jesus !" He speaks to the ear and heart of love, 
which had treasured in remembrance every tone 
of his accustomed voice. Just so did he reveal 
himself to Mary, weeping in her distraction at 
her Master's tomb; and when Jesus said unto 
her, "Mary," she knew by the thrill of sympathy 
which a loved voice awakens, that her lost Master 
was before her, and she cried out, "Babboni" — 
my Lord. The Saviour had described it as a 
characteristic of his sheep, that they hear his 
voice and they know him. And when he said, 
" It is I," he trusted to the quick sense of friend- 
ship to recognize the speaker, and bid him all 



"It is I" — what hidden force the words con- 
vey ! It was not necessary to say to them tvJtat 
he was. No titles of grandeur or Divinity could 
have meant so much to them. He tvas the King 
of kings and Lord of lords. He tvas the incarnate 
Deity, to whom all power belonged in heaven and 
earth. He was the glorious antitype of all in- 
spired types. He was the great High Priest of 
an atonement for aU mankind. But all these 
titles of magnificence, uttered by an archangel's 
trumpet, would not have signified so much to the 
hearts of these disciples as the simple words he 
used — "It is I." AU those titles might be his, 
and bring him no nearer to them. He might be 
glorious in his holiness, fearful in his praises, 
doing mighty wonders in heaven above and earth 
beneath ; but their hearts would have said, " Tell 
us not what he is, but what he is to us." "It 
is I." That simple assurance covered everything. 
Their master it was who spoke ; their companion, 
their friend. All-sufficient he was, they knew; 
but they rested most upon the fact that he was 
theirs. If it be thou, we are safe. 

So true is tlie attraction of the Christian's love 
for Christ. Only let it be truly begotten in his 
heart ; let him once learn the feeling of nearness 
to the Saviour — the union of sympathy and the 
identity of life; let him be once in the habit of 


intimate communion with the mercy-seat, where 
his soul feasts with Christ at his table of fat 
things ; then let the storm come, and amidst its 
wildest beatings, when the Saviour speaks, he 
will recognize the still small voice, above the 
loudest wail of the winds, and will respond. Like 
the symbolic personage in the Canticles, his heart 
cries, "It is the voice of my beloved." 

Oh, it is beautiful, the law of this spiritual 
magnetism ! I wish for no purer test of truthful 
piety than this quick vibration of feeling to the 
sound of the Saviour's voice. It is a celestial 
sense; a new-born faculty, making us one with 
Christ — hiding our lives in him. In trial, temp- 
tation, sorrow — it will always be enough to 
sound, amidst the din, one tone of Jesus' voice, 
and the faithful heart will know it and pause 
for more. 

"And Peter said. Lord, if it be thou, bid me 
to come to thee upon the water, and he said, 

Of all the disciples, Peter was the first to speak. 
We all remember the character of this eminent 
apostle. Prompt, eager, affectionate, full of zeal; 
we can distinguish him among the whole band. 
Strongly impulsive, he was just as rash in the 
expression of his love, and the avowal of his 
faith, as he was quick in the cowardly retreat. 


Whichsoever f'eelmg of his nature chanced to bo 
uppermost at the time, it drew his whole nature 
after it, in one explosive act. If it was forward 
in faith, when the object of his faith was before 
his eyes, it was hasty in denial, when he was 
looking away from Christ. Yet he was a sincere 
man : i. e. his feelings were true, though change- 
able, lie differed from a more common believer, 
not only in being less steadfast; but, I think, in 
being more honest. Where an ordinary disciple 
Avould have easily suppressed his feelings, be- 
cause they were weak, Simon Peter would act 
them out, because they were strong. Where 
another would have avoided the blame of incon- 
sistency, because no one knew his change of feel- 
ing, Peter would be reproached, because his 
nature w\as so transparent, that it could be read 
by all. Whatever he thought and felt, he thought 
and felt aloud. Ilis faith, therefore, was not 
weak, but intermittent. His heart v;as not di- 
vided; but, for a moment, turned aside. He had 
but one supreme object of love; but he some- 
times forgot that one — yet without loving an- 
other. When the object of his faith was before 
his eyes, no faith could possibly be more earnest. 
But if his mind turned away for an instant, it 
was an opportunity his enemy did not fail to use, 
to distract him into an inconsistency. 


The whole recorded life of this apostle exem- 
plifies this description; and the epitome of that 
same life is seen, with all its distinct features, in 
the transaction we are contemplating. ''Peter 
said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee 
upon the water, and he said, Come. And when 
Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked 
on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw 
the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and, begin- 
ning to sink, he cried, Lord, save me." 

Who would not know, without the name, that 
this could be none other than the fervent, but 
changeable Simon? With a faith that seems to 
have been looking out, even on the black waves, 
for his Master; and with a love that was shar- 
pened by separation, to the keenness of a long- 
ing — his emotions outstripped those of the rest. 
While they were silent, from 3^et lingering terror, 
or from prudence, or from a weaker love — every 
other feeling in his heart was quelled by this 
burst of desire, "Bid me come unto thee upon 
the water." I will not come against thy will, 
lest I offend thee ; I would not wait until thou 
comest to me, for that would show my love 
too tame and quiet; but I am willing to encoun- 
ter a danger for my love. I only ask for thy 

True faith aspires to great things. It goes 


out of the ordinary walk of life, and dares even 
to tread the waters. It is not content to be 
bound by the routine of common rules and fixed 
modes. It reaches beyond and above natural 
laAvs, and draws, from the sovereignty of omnipo- 
tence, its power of working. It will wait for the 
mustard seed to grow to a tree, if it must ; but 
it aspires to remove mountains. It will sail in 
a human ship if it be sent ; but it overleaps the 
bulwarks, to walk on the w^ater, if it can. It 
will wait for Christ to come even to the very 
door of the heart, if he says, " Stand still, and 
see the salvation of the Lord;" but its impulse is 
to rush forth to meet the coming Saviour, and 
seek him while he is afar off. 

True faith is an enterprising feeling. It sees 
invisible things. It compasses eternity. All 
that it wants, and waits for, is a Divine com- 
mand, or the Saviour's promise; and it goes forth, 
strong in the Lord, and in the power of his 
might, not knowing whither it goes : to fight the 
elements, or to battle with Satan; to tread the 
weaves, or to convert the world. It trusts to the 
ravens for food; it fares sumptuously on a hand- 
ful of meal and a cruse of oil. It overcomes 
death, and reaches the glory of the kingdom of 

Such was the character of Peter's fliith; but 


it wavered when he turned his eyes away from 
Christ, and saw the waves lashed b}^ the boister- 
ous wind; and he was afraid, and began to sink. 
Mournful commentary upon human infirmity ! 

How many of us have acted this weakness 
over again, — Love, distrust; faith, fear; hope, 
discouragement, possessing our bosoms, each in 
its turn pursuing and defeating the last ! Now, 
we call on Christ, out of a full heart; then, we 
question if he returns our love. Now, we ven- 
ture nobly to do his work ; then, we see the lion 
in the path and halt. Now, we anticipate suc- 
cess, and nothing seems too large ; presently, we 
give up all to ominous conjecture, and the grass- 
hopper is a burden. We pray; and then we are 
prayeiiess. We labour in the field of usefulness 
in Christ's cause; and then, we throw down our 
Bibles, and tracts, and Sunday school books, be- 
fore the working day is half done. We bestow 
our goods liberally to the cause of Christian be- 
neficence; and then, when the galvanic spasm 
has passed away, our hands clutch the dear gold 
as rigidly as ever. We sometimes join, heart 
with heart, at the mercy seat, where they are 
melted together, in the fervid outpouring of 
desire, that God would bless his gospel, here and 
every where ; and then, the hectic flush of de- 
votion subsides, and we sink into a collapse, 


which leads on to a more deadly chill. Oh! 
the faltering Peter was not alone in his faltering. 
Would to God we emulated his goodness as 
closely as we imitate his faults ! 

But, brethren, whether his or ours, those faults 
arise from the same cause. We walk by sight 
rather than by faith. We look away from Christ, 
to the whelming winds and waves. Then we 
lose our dependence, our faith lets go, and down 
we sink, with only space to cry out, before the 
gurgling waters have strangled us in perdition, 
"Lord, save me!" It is the ejaculation of a 
heart that is true at the core, "Lord, save me!" 
The soul that is at all familiar with the Saviour 
will be sure to remember him in its extremity. 
The test of affection is that it is always strongest 
at parting. That is the one best loved of all, 
whose name lingers on the dying breath. And 
so the Christian will not fail to cry out as he 
sinks, "Lord — my Jesus — save me!" It is a 
wholesome sign to be surprised into a prayer. 

This is enough, for it is at least the root of 
faith. And immediately he stretches out his 
hand, and catches him, and says, "0 thou of 
little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" There 
was a reproof accompan3dng the salvation, but 
how tolerable is the reproof of mercy in its very 
act ! This is the fulfilment of that prayer of holy 


writ, ^'0 Lord, correct me, but Avith judg- 
ment, not in thy anger, lest thou bring me to 
nothing." The soul can survive many correc- 
tions of grace, and grow stronger in love and 
faith. It will kiss the rod of compassion, and 
nestle in the Saviour's bosom the more affection, 
ately as his tenderness reproves more often. It 
is the rebuke of his justice that kills, and drowns 
us in perdition. But he did not say to Simon, 
^'Nay, thou hast doubted me, and now thou shalt 
die." The mercy of the act muffled the severity 
of the chiding, and Jesus and Peter were dearer 
to each other than ever. 

And so shall it be with all such. Oh ! if you 
have strength enough to ejaculate in your lan- 
guishing, '^Lord, save me!" you shall be saved. 

You may be in the deep waters of affliction, 
fearful and ready to sink; but do not despair. 
A Saviour treads above those waters — cry out to 
him, and he will answer with the saving strength 
of his right hand. When your faith is weak, 
your prayer should be more earnest. Your 
doubts have displeased him, but your distress 
will conciliate him again. You have wounded 
him by your distrust, but his heart will be healed 
when he holds you in his embrace. Whatever 
our sorrows, spiritual or worldl}^, and whatever 
the cause of our doubts, afflictions, or sins, we 


must cease to look at the waves, we must think 
only of Christ. Look up to him. "Out of the 
deep have I called unto thee, Lord," — " Lord, 
hear my voice," and save me. He will console 
your Christian spirits, and uphold you with his 
everlasting arm. " When thou goest through tlie 
waters, I will be with thee, and through the 
floods, they shall not overflow thee." In the 
bosom of Jesus your disquieted heart shaU have 
perfect peace. 

And let me commend the precious truth to 
those, if they be here, who, in the uneasiness of a 
convicted conscience, are longing for a Saviour 
whom they know not. Even to you is the offer 
of this salvation sent. Although 3^our sins may 
rise about you like an angry sea, and your fears 
discourage you from praying, yet we exhort 
you to turn a single look of faith to Him who 
hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm of 
human wickedness. Sob out one prayer, at least, 
to the Saviour who looks down upon your sinking 
soul — '^Lord, save me!" You shall not pray in 
vain. He will stretch out his hand to save you. 
He will draw you to his side, and uphold 3'ou 
with his free Spirit. Your sins shall not be so 
much as mentioned by him. He will indeed 
rebuke you, but not in [inger; not for the count- 
less transgressions that are past. All the iniqui- 


ties of your unregenerate life, and the constant 
iniquity of an unregenerate heart, he will pass 
utterly by. And his only reproach, as he weeps 
tears of love and joy over your rescued spirit, 
will be that you could distrust his tenderness, 
and sin against his compassion. You will love 
him the more, as he bends down to your embrace, 
and says, "0 thou of little faith, wherefore 
didst thou doubt?" 



Genesis xviii. 19. 


THE Lord.'' 

Our subject, this morning, is holiness in the 
family, or the Christian at home. 

The scripture which I have selected as a text, 
is one of many in which our heavenly Father 
has declared his peculiar commendation of do- 
mestic piety. The patriarch Abraham, of whom 
these w^ords were spoken, was honoured by spe- 
cial tokens of the Divine f^ivour, in consequence 
of his fidelity to his household duties. God 
made him the confidant of his purposes, and ad- 
mitted him to such friendly partiality, as to re- 
ceive his intercessions for Sodom, and to promise, 
that if the conditions proposed by Abraham could 
be met, the doomed city should yet be spared 
from the vengeance of eternal flames. When 


we recollect that this patriarch is distinguished 
by the eminent title of ''the friend of God;" and 
observe^ as in our text, that the proof of his 
fidehty rests on his conscientious discharge of 
his parental duties, the importance and value of 
this department of rehgion assume at once a 
hi2:h rank. 


Although I have named, as my subject, "the 
Christian at home," yet, as the limits of a dis- 
course oblige me to select that view of the sub- 
ject which is most comprehensive, and most 
important, I pass by the mutual responsibilities 
of brothers and sisters, and the duties of child- 
ren to their parents, to consider that class of 
obhgations which belong to the relation of a pa- 
rent alone. The duties of brothers and sisters 
are the duties of equals towards each other; 
essentially the same as those relative obligations 
which bind together the whole community. And 
the duties of children are comprised in the gene- 
ral propriety of submission to authority, an 
obligation which embraces many other relations 
besides the domestic. But the duties of parents 
are peculiar — confined within the circle of the 
household, and touching no point that is not found 
in that one line of relationship. 

The parent stands to his household in the imi- 
tative capacity of creator. He is the fount and 


origin of an authority the most absolute of any 
on earth. All other human government was pre- 
ceded historically, and in the nature of things, 
by the domestic rule. It is the only government 
which has never been claimed to have been es- 
tablished by social compact. It stands on a sin- 
gular eminence, in lone peculiarity; confessedly 
divine. The duties, therefore, which grow out 
of the parental relation, and cluster around it, 
always are found only in the family. Aside 
from his other duties, as a member of society, 
and a member of church, and more momentous 
in its consequences than any other, the parent is 
bound by obligations which are all his own. And 
when we w^ould see holiness in the family, or the 
Christian at home ; if we would see it in its most 
complete and comprehensive form, we must find 
it in the exercise of parental influence. 

We may consider the parental duty as com- 
prising these three, viz : 1st, the dedication of 
his children to God ; 2d, their education, and 3d, 
the exercise of control and disciphne. 

1st. The dedication of young children to God, 
in some way, is a duty recognized, I believe, by 
all Christians, of whatever name. I am not sure 
that it is not a suggestion of nature, since we 
find something hke it, even among the heathen. 
And the organization of families is so primitive 


and necessary an institution, as to warrant the 
conviction, that it is a special object of the Divine 
purpose, and, consequently, of the Divine care. 
However this may be, revealed religion has always 
inculcated the duty. Under the elder dispensa- 
tion, the rite of circumcision was the appointed 
method by which the young child was dedicated 
to God, which was superseded, under the Gospel, 
by the ordinance of baptism. In this commu- 
nity, and specially in this congregation, there is 
no deficiency in the observance of this rite. But 
it would betray a lamentable defect of spiritual 
apprehension, to suppose that the parental duty 
was satisfied by the mere outward rite. The 
form of baptism is not the simple transaction 
that it seems to be. It is the sign of a deep 
purpose of the heart, in which the whole wilHng 
faculties of the Christian parent are concerned. 
In the presentation of the child in the temple^ 
there is involved a cordial, believing surrender of 
him to both the mercy and the authority of the 
sovereign Trinity : Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 
The parent thereby alienates his own title to his 
child ; and when he receives him again from the 
font, he receives him as a sacred loan from his 
heavenly Father, to be educated for him, and 
to be recalled whenever he shall choose. 

I cannot conceive of any interpretation of in- 


fant baptism, short of this, which does not nullify 
its whole import, and turn religious ordinances 
to most trivial ceremonies. As there are in bap- 
tism, most evidently, the form and the words of 
dedication, the simple and only question for the 
Christian parent is, whether that form and vow 
are to be like the oath of the custom-house, or a 
covenant for the judgment-day, and for eternity. 
As the rite of baptism does not create the duty 
of dedication, but only declares it, it is plain 
that the duty is not satisfied by a compliance 
with the form alone. The duty is the same 
under all circumstances; and would be the same, 
if there were no church, no minister, no baptism. 
Among the shades of the loneliest forest, in the 
centre of the most solitary desert, drifting on the 
naked ocean, where there is no one but parent, 
child, and God ; there lives the duty — destroyed 
by no shipwreck, altered by no circumstances — 
the duty of dedicating the inflmt to the mercy 
and the obedience of his God and Saviour. It 
is then purely a spiritual act; demanding the 
sincerity of the heart, as much as the parent's 
own self-dedication to God. If the spirit and 
import of this act were thus truly estimated by 
Christian parents, the baptism of infants would 
not be the mere outward ceremony which it too 
often is. It would be approached with the sol- 


emn stir of feeling, and the preparation of prayer. 
It would be entered upon with engagedness of 
heart, and the awful sense of covenanting with 
God. And when completed, it would leave be- 
hind it that calm of holy assurance which always 
follows a true sacrifice. And henceforward, that 
infant would be, to the parent's eye, not a mere crea- 
ture for the enjoyment of this world j not his own 
exclusive property, but consecrated and pledged 
for God, and to be trained for him whose he is. 

This first exercise of parental authority, there- 
fore, prepares the way for the second, viz : the 
religious education of his children. As the act 
of dedication w^as an acknowledgment of the 
parent's dependence on God, this second duty 
implies his responsibility. In the yet sleeping 
faculties of his babe, the Christian parent beholds 
a capacity, which is to be developed, not only to 
the limits of time and sense, but to everlasting 
duration. He recognizes powers which shall 
grow to be mighty for weal or w^oe. He knows 
there is in that infant spirit a germ whose fruits 
shall be undecaying in heaven or in hell. And this 
alternative will be determined, very much, if not 
absolutel}^, by the parental agency and influence. 

There is a theory abroad that the child's mind 
should be undisturbed by any religious teaching, 
until he is old enough to form his own opinions, 


in order that he may approach the subject with 
impartiah ty and candour. If there were no 
native tendency to sin wclhng up in the soul — if 
there were no self-love leading it to repel un- 
pleasant truths — if there were no such thing as 
habit hating all change — ^if there were no world 
without, stimulating all the powders and propensi- 
ties — if the mind and heart could be kept a per- 
fect blank vacancy, ready to receive the holy 
teaching when it should come, and if religious 
truths were mere opinions instead of Divine facts 
— there might be in this theory a plausible show 
of sense. But when we remember the activities 
of human nature, putting themselves forth into 
spontaneous exercise, and grasping all objects of 
sense and thought; when we remember the pas- 
sive powers of childhood, taking impressions like 
the softened wax from every contact; when we 
remember its faculty of absorption, imbibing from 
the social atmosphere health or sickness; when 
we remember, in a word, that the world, the flesh 
and the devil are combined to educate the soul; 
so that all its powders shall grow stiff in bad habit, 
and all its capacities be fdled with falsehood, and 
closed up against religion by the prejudice of an 
unconverted heart, and that most obdurate of all 
bigotry, the bigotry of sin ; when we remember 
all this, the theory of religious neutrality in edu- 


cation seems to have no element of reason to 
redeem its absurdity. No Christian, with the 
open Bible before him, can for a moment counte- 
nance tlie falsehood. It has the sulphurous taint 
about it that betrays its origin offensively. 

Contrary to all this, the Scriptures enjoin the 
duty of rehgious education as of paramount im- 
portance. To "train up a child in the way he 
should go," and to "bring them up in the nurture 
and admonition of the Lord," are injunctions 
which a Christian cannot lightly avoid. Whom 
shall ye teach knowledge, and make to understand 
doctrine ? Them who are w^eaned from the milk, 
and drawn from the breast. And the duty begins 
with the very commencement of the parental 
relation. In the cradle — sooner than that — in 
the fh^st maternal embrace, for aught that can 
be shown to the contrary, there may be with the 
pressure of those loving arms an influence that 
shaU impress the soul just shaped for eternity. 
In the mingUng glances which shoot from those 
eyes looking up and looking dovvm into each 
other, why may not the mother's gaze, glistening 
with the vivid fire of parental love, waken mag- 
netic impulses in the breast of the child, as well 
as the lambent light of his own laughing look 
rouse up in the mother's bosom a stronger yearn- 
ing of tenderness ? In the secrecy of that nurs- 


ing chamber there may thus be going on an inter- 
course of unutterable power, to stir the leading im- 
pulses of the whole future hfe. If such a thing be 
even possible — and it is more than that — it Avould 
teach every Christian mother the sacred value of 
her early influence, and should be as a warning 
not to delegate to a cold-hearted substitute the 
paramount office which God and nature have 
devolved implicitly upon herself. Throughout 
the whole period of infancy, the Christian mother 
has the same responsibility and greater facilities 
for training the moral nature of her child. Be- 
fore the thinking powers are developed, the sensi- 
biUties have their activity, and make up the in- 
fant's hfe. These may be excited and swayed 
in many ways. The sweet dreams of his mo- 
ther's lap may be associated in his mind forever 
with the music of the saints, with which he was 
sung to sleep. The calmness of maternal piety, 
be^u'ing with his fretful temper, may keep in the 
back ground a crowd of passions that might have 
been angered by a nurse's petulance. 

But passing out of infincy, behold him, when 
mind and feeling grow together. And here com- 
mences the joint sway of both parents, the sea- 
son for imparting knowledge. Among the ver}^ 
earliest of all should be imparted the knowledge 
of God. It is quite surprising how naturally the 


young mind reaches out after God. and lays hold 
on the idea of his providence and care. Indeed, 
it is the most congenial thought that can be pre- 
sented it, for it harmonizes best with all the expe- 
rience he has had of life. He already knows what 
a parent is; sees it, feels it, rejoices in it hourly, 
and it is easy to amphfy that thought into the con- 
ception of the great and good Being who is over 
all. When religion is thus presented, with its 
loveliest objects foremost, and most adorable, the 
progress is easy from truth to truth, until the whole 
structure of the mind is shaped into conformity 
with an evangelical faith. And when, with this 
is blended the early and constant habit of prayer, 
there is an education which works the holy 
thoughts into the heart, and makes rehgion prac- 
tical and powerful. 

Religious edacation, however, does not terminate 
with childhood, nor with mere dogmatic teaching. 
It is not the catechism, nor the Sunday-school 
lesson, nor the forced respect to the Sabbath, 
W'hich is to discharge the parent of his responsi- 
bility. Holiness in the family should be an 
atmosphere to be breathed in. Eeligion should 
not be a contraband topic, to be spoken in a 
whisper, as if it were offensive to ears polite, 
but as one of the familiar themes which make 
up hfe's business. Then the child will grow into 


the natural and easy boldness, of not being 
ashamed of having a soul to take care of, and a 
God to honour. He will be inspired with an un- 
conscious moral courage, such as becomes a man 
in Christ Jesus, and his tastes will be moulded 
after such a pattern, that vicious associations, 
and all forms of worldliness Avill fail to attract 
him. Here is the best antidote to the evils over 
which parents so often lament in the excesses of 
their children, in the period of young manhood 
and young w^omanhood; excesses which are just 
as much the natural eflects of home influence, 
either negative or positive, as attraction and re- 
pulsion are of the opposite electricities. If the 
parent has been himself easily negligent of reli- 
gion at home; if he has let the fire on the family 
altar go out; if he betrays a loving interest in the 
worldliness of the world, a spirit of w^eak compro- 
mise to usages wdiich he pronounces wrong; if 
he has himself pandered to the worldliness of his 
child — fostered her vanity — incited his pride; 
if he has, on system, allowed him to be educated 
under influences directly adverse to his religion; 
and then, if, by his own intemperance, or rashness 
of temper, or malicious criticism of others, he 
has falsified to his children's eyes the holy pro- 
fession which he has assumed, the education of 
that family so far fails to be religious, and he is 
not the Christian he ought to be at home. 


Not to dwell longer upon this branch of the sub- 
ject, let us pass to the thkcl duty of the Christian 
parent — restraint and control. It was the special 
commendation of Abraham, that he would com- 
mand his children after him. It was the curse of 
EH, blasting his whole family, that he restrained 
not his sons. I speak now of a Christian duty, 
more commonly neglected than any other of our 
day. Parental restraint has grown to be almost 
an obsolete phrase. Either from the nature of 
our political institutions, or the common admira- 
tion of that independence, which is our national 
characteristic, the spurning of authority is an 
American fault, which has invaded the family, 
and spoiled it of its holiness. The reverence for 
parents enjoined in the Scriptures, is a quality too 
rarely seen even in Christian households. And an 
observant eye can hardly fail to discover the sad 
cause in that household itself. Parents, perhaps, 
from self-love imperfectly subdued, delight to see 
themselves over again in their children. They 
love to witness the independence of spirit of the 
little precocious man. They pet the pride of the 
boy, and foster the fancies of the girl. Pertness 
is sometimes miscalled manliness, and wilfulness 
is mistaken for wholesome energy, until self- 
esteem swells into monstrous prominence, and 
becomes so inflamed and sensitive, that it can be 


approached only with extreme delicacy. The 
child's will becomes the law of the parents ; to 
which the order, the custom, and sometimes the 
principles of the household are called to bend; 
and the poet's words are verified, though in a 
very different sense from that which he intended : 
" The child is father of the man." David dis- 
pleased not his son Adonijah at any time, say- 
ing. Why hast thou done so ? 

It w^ould be easy to show the mischievous 
consequences of such training, when systematized 
and made universal, upon the next and following 
generations, stimulating the spirit of self-will and 
insubordination, until passion will devour all 
piety, and the obdurate heart will find nothing 
congenial but atheism. But we, as Christians, 
have to deal with this subject, not as a matter of 
consequences, but of conscience. It is one of 
the most fearfully momentous duties of the Chris- 
tian parent to control his children. The duty 
has indeed its limits. It is limited, in the first 
place, by the age of the child ; and the parent has 
no right to extend an absolute dominion over 
those mature years, in which his son or daughter 
is competent to think and act for himself. It is 
most consistent with the evident design of the 
Creator, that the 3'outh should be thrown some- 
times on his own resources of talent and energy, 


and learn wisdom even from his folly. Our 
wofal experience is often the most wholesome- 
The parent's authority is limited again by the 
conscience of his child; and he has no right to 
interfere by any force but that of reason and 
prayer, with his religious convictions. For there 
is a better father than the human, and another 
master, to whom the child must stand or fall. 

But although tlie parental responsibility is thus 
limited by age, the parent has no right to alien- 
ate it by shortening the natural period of pupilage, 
and exalting the child's whims into laws for him- 
self. If his authority be limited by his child's 
conscience, he has no right to leave that con- 
science, to act blindly and from wayward impulse ; 
so that with a large allowance for these excep- 
tions, the duty still holds over him its large and 
emphatic claim to "command his children after 

That control, no doubt, is most wholesome, as 
well as most dignified, which is exerted rather 
by moral influence than by rules and by power, 
addressing the conscience rather than the fears. 
Such control abides, fresh and vigorous, long 
after the child is a man. It even grows with 
the parent's decline, and encircles the grey head 
with a chaplet of authority ever green. There 
are instances, no doubt, in which the parent's 


will must be asserted in the most peremptory 
and forcible way, and must be reverenced merely 
because it is his will, and the more powerful will 
of the two. Better then to employ the simple 
superiority of power than by neglecting one soul 
to imperil two. By w^hatever method, it is the 
imperative duty of the Christian parent to esta- 
blish his authority as the parent. Failing of this, 
he fails of everything desirable and happy. Suc- 
ceeding in this, he lays the foundation of a bles- 
sing which shall not onl}^ canopy his own head, 
but give shelter and repose to the generations of 
his children. For listen to God's benediction — 
" His children shall keep the way of the Lord, to 
do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring 
upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of 
him." Yes, the blessing shall be upon that 
parent, the blessing of a posterity of holy flimilies, 
whom he will not be ashamed to meet in eternity, 
and to say, "Lord, behold I, and the children 
thou hast given me," who will rejoice to meet 
him, and will rise up together to call him blessed. 



1 Chronicles xvi. 29. 

"Give uxto the Lord the glory due unto his name; brixg 


AVhen the ark of the Lord was brought into 
the royal city from its long seclusion at Kirjath 
Jearim the occasion was one of jubilee. The 
tribes of Israel were summoned from their farthest 
bounds to celebrate the event with pomp and re- 
joicing music. On this occasion the king deli- 
vered to Asaph, the chief of the chosen Levites, 
a psalm of thanksgiving, of which our text is a 
part. It is probable that this psalm was designed 
as a part of the stated worship of the sanctuar}^, 
and hence these words afford a constant rule for 
the method of worship. '^ Give unto the Lord 
the glory due unto his name; bring an oiler in g 
and come before liim : worship the Lord in the 
beauty of holiness." 



Here are gathered several distinct topics, viz : 
the duty of public worship for the honour of the 
Most High, the acknowledgment of our depen- 
dence upon him by appropriate gifts and sacrifices, 
and, lastly, the circumstances and conditions 
which constitute a beautiful propriety in worship, 
called in the text — the beauty of hoUness. 

The duty of public w^orship w^e need not now 
discuss; the propriety of religious offerings we 
have already, in a former sermon, discussed. 
But as our subject in order to-day is "Holiness 
in AVorship, or the Christian in the Church," we 
will select the latter part of the text as denoting 
our theme — "Worship the Lord in the beauty of 

And this language has a twofold interpretation, 
signifying, first, a local beauty in the holy place, 
as if it w^ere said, "Worship the Lord in the 
beauty of holiness, in the beautiful place set apart 
for that purpose;" and, secondly, denoting the 
beauty of propriety in the form and expressions 
of worship. 

First. A beauty is ascribed to the very place 
of our public devotions. I need but remind you 
of the high distinction which, under the Mosaic 
dispensation, was always awarded to the temple. 
It is, again and again, in the Scriptures, signal- 
ized as the grand, conspicuous centre of God's 


earthly glory. And taught thus by God himself, 
the pious Jew turned his face to Jerusalem when- 
ever he turned his heart to heaven. It was a joy 
to enter its gates, a privilege to approach its 
altars, and an anticipation of heaven, faint and 
feeble indeed, to be near the enshrined presence 
of Jehovah in the Holy of Holies. Consistently 
with such legitimate feelings, the temple itself 
was constructed on a scale of magnificence which 
surpassed that of all human abodes. The out- 
ward form and beauty of the sacred structure 
were designed to image forth its spiritual glory, 
and to betoken the superior presence within. 

That was a dispensation of forms and semblan- 
ces, and has passed away. The time has come, 
according to the Saviour's words, when not only 
at Jerusalem, but everywhere, men may worship 
the Father, yet, with the change of dispensation, 
human nature is not changed, nor the relation of 
things. There is a natural feeling, which still 
prompts the pious heart to distinguish the place 
of public religious service, by signs which denote 
its holy separation and superiority. 

And there is likewise a certain fitness of things 
which prescribes that the outward forms and ar- 
rangements of God's house should accord with, 
and represent, the sentiments of devotion. There 
is, no doubt, a typical connection between forms 


and feelings. Signs suggest thoughts, not only 
from conventional usage, but from the nature of 
things. Hence the outward beauty of holiness 
in Divine worship, is to be sought by reference 
to this principle of our nature. I apprehend that 
to every mind, even the least cultivated, there 
seems to be a fitness in distinguishing a church 
from a warehouse. We do not love to see the 
same structure, which is associated in our minds 
with the purest and dearest of human hopes and 
sentiments — distinguished in no respect from 
the familiar places of our least sacred thoughts. 
We crown the church's roof with a spire, point- 
ing hke a finger to heaven; or we seclude it some- 
what from the noise and commonness of the 
street, to signify its unworldliness ; or if we do 
not so, there is a sort of instinct which tells us 
that we ought. This same principle may be 
carried out to a certain extent, wdth most salu- 
tary effect, in the general structure and arrange- 
ments of the church. The style of architecture 
may be one whose lines of form are unconscious- 
1}^ suggestive of elevation, and whose dim vaults 
and shadows shall promote the sense of being 
sequestered from the garish scenes of common 
life. Hence, there may be an architecture which is 
distinctively ecclesiastical, distinguishing a church 
from a civic hall, or a banquet room ; and if it be 


not carried so far as to withdraw the mind from 
this unconscious state, to dwell on the beauty of 
the workmanship, or the genius of the artist, 
human art may be made to subserve a high and 
noble usefulness. 

The same is true of the arrangements and ap- 
pendages of the church. They should indicate 
the peculiar character and uses of the building, 
awakening devotion without feeding superstition, 
and bringing no thoughts into the mind which 
are uncongenial with its characteristic sobriety. 
Many of our own churches have adopted, from 
our mother church, certain arrangements which 
are beautifully appropriate. In them, besides 
the communion table and the baptismal font, 
there are tablets inscribed with the decalogue, 
the creed, and the Lord's prayer, which, while 
they arrest the eye with important scripture, 
reveal the character of the place as sacred, and 
not worldly; and the character of the church, 
as a teaching, as well as a ritual church — Chris- 
tian instead of Pagan; orthodox, not heretical. 

But the decoration, as well as the architecture, 
of the church may be carried too far. Not only 
may the principle of symbolism be pushed to 
ridiculousness, but the best art may become ab- 
surdly out of place. The introduction of pictures 
into churches — a practice generally rebuked by 


Protestant Christians as imedifying, is, in an artis- 
tical point of view, still more unprofitable. A 
picture can be seen to perfect advantage, only in 
one light, and from one position. No place can 
be more unfavourable therefore for such an exhi- 
bition than the walls of the church, exposed to a 
multitude of cross lights, flooding the picture 
with an unmeaning glare, and no position could 
be worse for observation, than that of a majority 
of the spectators, confined by pews to certain 
places; and who, if they observe at all, must 
be offended by distorted shapes, and confused 
colouring. Such experiments of incongruity 
only degrade the true dignity of art, and turn 
the sacred and the solemn into unworthy gro- 
tesque. Paintings and upholster}^ may be appro- 
priate in the parlour, but are not the legitimate 
ornaments of that holy interior, where everything 
should conspire to urge home upon the soul the 
deep-laid, irresistible sentiment, "This is none 
other than the house of God : this is the gate of 
heaven." As a general rule, then, the fine arts 
should be subsidized for ecclesiastical purposes, 
only so far as they may tend to awaken, not the 
enthusiasm of poetry or of taste, but those deep 
fundamental impressions of religious truth, which 
remind us that we are in the presence of the 
unseen^ but heart-searching God. 


This principle is applicable, also, to another 
department of the fine arts, as connected ^vilh 
public worship. I mean the music of the sanctuary. 

God has established so intimately this law 
of nature, that ^^'out of the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh," that it is impossi- 
ble that music and devotion can be divorced. 
The melody which the heart makes in itself, 
strives and rushes to the utterance of the lips; 
and the sweet repose of the soul, in its 
rapt communion with God, is nursed by the 
solemn harmonies that come from without. 
Think of the transactions w^hich are going on, 
day and night, around the throne of God ; where 
the sea of uplifted countenances reflects the light 
of his countenance, and ten thousand times ten 
thousand tongues utter the volumed music, that 
bursts from as many adoring hearts. No scene 
on earth can so resemble this, as a whole con- 
gregation, lifted up on their feet, and joining in 
one chorus of musical worship. This is the only 
true conception of ecclesiastical music; and when 
this is realized in practice, one most important 
element is gained of the beauty of holiness. 

In order to this, the melodies of the church 
should be simple; to bespeak those feelings of 
devotion which are among the simplest of the 
human breast. Its harmonies should be broad 


and grand, to embrace the whole soul, and hear 
it strongly up. Its symphonies should be short 
and easy; its voluntaries, fitted to the character 
of the occasion, and the spirit of the sermon. 
There is no occasion in which human art should 
so studiously conceal itself, and become the secret 
ministrant of heaven, as in the music of religious 
pathos, penitence, and praise. When these re- 
quisites are met, the music of the church becomes 
wdiat it ought to be — congregational — the music 
of the whole — beautiful to the ear, and to the 

But these requisites are too often scorned by 
the ambition of modern art. The taste that is 
bred at operas and concerts, soon learns to dis- 
credit the legitimate character of ecclesiastical 
compositions, and craves the higher excitements 
of music ; its unusual harmonies, its minute beau- 
ties, its exquisite detail. It grows to love the 
art for its own sake; and to admire the perform- 
ance, instead of feeling its design. When this 
occurs, the music becomes a mere exhibition; it 
is delegated, as a work, to a few; and the con- 
gregation are listeners, instead of worshippers. 
Here are two essential absurdities — substituting 
the means for the end, and making that which 
is beautirul in itself oifensive by being out of its 
place. So far as this practice prevails, it per- 


verts this beautiful part of sacred worship, and 
spoils it of all the beauty of holiness. 

Having thus dwelt on the outward conditions 
and circumstances which aid the proprieties of 
public devotion, let us consider, 

2dly, The connection of our own personal con- 
duct with the beauty of holy worship. 

When I say it is important how we should 
behave ourselves, as the apostle says, in the house 
of God, you will acquit me, I know, of any un- 
due exalting of rehgious forms. Forms are not 
the spirit and the life-; but they reiwe^ent both. 
Our church, following the example of almost all 
Christian and Jewish worship, has provided that 
the several parts of her worship shall be con- 
ducted by stated forms; which, so far from being 
a hindiance to devotion, are, I am persuaded, 
most useful and effectual helps ; and when rightly 
observed, conduce more than any looser methods 
to the holy beauty of public worship. For their 
full value to be reahzed, however, there are cer- 
tain conditions, which I proceed to name. 

The first of these is a due preparation of 
heart and mind. And this begins at home. When 
our eyes open on the holy day, our hearts should 
wake to holiness. The business of the house 
should be disposed of as noiselessly, and as early 
as possible ; and the business of the week displaced 


entirely, with its newspapers and letters. The 
family prayer being done, and the weekly offerings 
being made, as God hath prospered you, let the 
thoughts settle into soberness. Bring near to 
your minds the purposes of the day — what the 
Sabbath is, and why it is. "With a prayer for 
God's companionship and blessing, that the duties 
of the day may be done as under his eye ; its 
privileges enjoyed, as from his presence; its bles- 
sings secured for the coming week, and for all 
time and eternity too. With such preparation 
of mind, in a word, as you would make for an 
earthly court — watching, wishing, and earnest — 
direct your feet to the house of the Lord, and 
come before him. 

And then, in the second place, as impor- 
tant to the propriety of holy worship, let me 
mention punctuahty of attendance. The hour 
assigned for the commencement of Divine ser- 
vice was probably selected as the most generally 
convenient. It is therefore to be i^resumed that 
all may be present at the very opening of the 
service. And although to every one there may 
be sometimes a necessary delay, yet this cannot 
be alw(ujs true of any one. Whenever, therefore, 
lateness at church is a habit, it betrays some 
fjiult in the individual, or the family, which may 
be mended by a change of system. 


The importance of punctuality is obvious on 
several grounds. 1st. The earl}^ portions of our 
church service are, to say the least, as valuable 
as the latter, if not even more so, for they are 
meant to be a preparative for all that follows 
them. The opening sentences summon you, in 
God's name, to meet him. The exhortation de- 
fines the necessity and order of our duties. The 
general confession fits the heart, as nothing else 
can, for the joy and praise that succeed. All 
this is lost to one, who, hurrying in from the 
street, is obliged to seize the strain of worship 
just where he can. It can hardly be expected 
that his feelings can be duly attuned to any part 
of the sacred service, and his soul must sufi'er a 
want. When to this we add the reflection, that 
every late comer disturbs the devotions of others, 
as well as forfeits his own benefit, I think the 
propriety of this suggestion will need no other 
explanation. Better to be too early, than at all 
late. Better to be waiting on God, than to seem 
to demand that he should wait for us. 

Again, thirdly, to maintain the beauty of holy 
worship, we should begin at the threshold of 
the Church. When we enter the sacred enclo- 
sure of Jehovah's recorded name and presence, 
each one should pursue his way to his place with 
a modest and thoughtful mien, not gazing abroad 


on either side, nor occupied at all with other 
things. Let him first of all, by a few moments 
of secret prayer, establish a communication be- 
tween his soul and God, and thus be ready to 
lend his part to the full-voiced worship of the 

And, fourthly, when this is begun it should 
engross both the outward and the inward facul- 
ties. Our form of worship has this grand and 
beautiful peculiarity. It is meant for common 
prayer. Unlike the system in which the minister 
turns from the people, as if they had no interest 
or participation in his worship ; and not less unHke 
that in which, by leaving all to the minister, the 
people may participate or not — our sj^stem con- 
templates both minister and people as joined and 
sharing in the duty and joy of open devotion. 
Ours, therefore, is responsive worship, and the 
plainest duty of the congregation is to join with 
voice as well as heart in swelling the tide of 
devotion that should flow over the whole. It is 
sometimes embarrassing to the minister who 
pauses for the response, to hear only a murmur, 
so faint and feeble that he can scarcely be sure 
that it has ceased for him to begin again. It is, 
however, still more ungrateful to his eyes, and 
must it not be so to the great Master of the assem- 
bly, to see, here and there, the open prayer-book all 


unheeded; the Christian's eye wandering abroad 
through the congregation, noticing every entrance, 
and scanning the dress or the movements of others ; 
and his lips closed against utterance, as if he had 
no heart to Avorship, or felt himself out of place, 
amidst forms that he rejected, if not superciliously 
despised ? I am aware of the diffidence that is 
felt in responding by individuals who, hearing 
only their own voices, imagine that theirs are the 
only voices heard. But while this is not the 
fiict to any considerable extent, it might be alto- 
gether obviated if every worshipper, mindful 
only of his own earnest part, would utter himself 
to God as if desiring that /w should hear. This 
participation of each one in the common prayers 
and praises of the church, would beget an out- 
spoken freedom, which would add not only to our 
enjoyment of public worship, but to the impression 
which our services are adapted to make, of admi- 
rable propriety and holy beauty. So that the 
stranger, instead of comparing us unflivourably 
with other congregations, for our want of spirit 
and earnestness — when he witnessed our ready 
and cordial worship — -joining us all in every 
exercise — kneeling in prayer rather than sitting 
idl}^— standing in praise, as if the body would 
rise with the soul — and responding clearly with 
the voice in supplication and in song — would be 


ready to fall clown with us and worship God, and 
report that God is in us of a truth. For such 
power is there, the apostle being witness, in that 
worship which is in the beauty of holiness. 

And now, in the last place, the worship is 
not closed with the liturgy. It receives an 
added and impressive beauty from the practice 
of pausing upon your knees after the benediction, 
each one invoking secretly for himself and others 
a blessing on the services of God's house. How 
ineffably better is this than the hurry and the 
rush which will scarcely wait for the last words 
of pastoral benediction, as if worship were a 
tediousness, and the relief could not be too soon ! 
When, then, we see the congregation wrapped for 
a season in the silence of that secret prayer, as if 
God's mantle were thrown over them, and then 
passing soberly out to the well-suited music of 
the organ, not criticising the sermon nor retailing 
the news, but carrying in the whole mien the 
impression of having been in the august and loved 
presence of the King of kings — then we witness 
the sacred rule of worship realized in the beauty 
of holiness. It can scarcely fail that such wor- 
ship would, by a hundred pleasant associations, 
entwine our hearts, and draw us often to the 
sanctuary. In the spirit of the Psalmist, " How 
amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord of hosts! 


my soul hath a deske and longmg to enter into 
the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh 
cry out for the living God." It would attach us 
more fondly to the idea of Christian fellowshiiD 
and sympathy, and make us more like one house- 
hold by making each one necessary to the others' 
enjoyment of the holy beauty of worship. 

More might be said of our public services, but 
the limits of my discourse forbid it. 

I recommend the subject to you, dear brethren, 
as worthy of your devout regard. There is an 
evident inconsistency in having a form of ser- 
vice which we systematically disregard. And 
when that form is adapted to the rich uses of the 
w^orshipping heart, there is reason to fear that to 
neglect the form, is to leave the heart barren. 

I believe that our services embody all that can 
be required for a rational, affectionate, full-toned 
worship. If, by our practice, we would develope 
its capabilities, it would meet that demand, which, 
seeking after fervour and beauty, is sometimes 
led off after counterfeit ceremonials, and finds in 
dramatic forms the sentimental influence, which 
is but a lame substitute for the fervour of the 

Do not imagine that your piety will be more 
spiritual for neglecting its forms. So long as we 
have bodies, as well as souls; eyes, ears, and 


tongues, as well as faith and feeling — so long 
should they be conjoined in the highest and 
holiest agencies of our being. We shall often 
find that the outward faculties will actuate the 
inward, as well as the inward vivify the outward. 
If God has joined them together for the perfect- 
ing of the beauty of holiness, let us not unscru- 
pulously put them asunder. 



Matthew vi. 24. 
*' Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." 

Each class of the human propensities and pas- 
sions has, at some time or other, exercised over 
the lives of men a supreme control. Sometimes 
the dominion of one passion is so despotic as to 
be exclusive. It can bear no rival near the 
throne, and subdues all other feelings to itself. 
At other times the propensities will hold a joint 
sway, and reinforce each other. They wiU erect, 
in the breast of man, a sort of oligarchy of pas- 
sions, dividing the moral empire of his being. 

The natural desires of man, thus made sove- 
reign, are like so many deities, to whom he pays 
the homage of his obedience. In the earlier 
times of idolatry, when it was customary to per- 
sonify ideas and feehngs, these governing pas- 
sions were pictured in bodily forms, with appro- 



priate titles. These were the idol gods of the 
heathen; and to worship them acceptably, was 
to indulge in excess those passions which they 
severally represented. Without attempting even 
a sketch of this idolatry, I may mention some of 
their principal deities, who, under changeable 
titles, have wielded the largest dominion over the 
generations of men, and may stand to us as the 
representatives of the most common passions of 
nature. Moloch is the deity of cruelty, ambi- 
tion, and blood. Ashtaroth, the goddess of li- 
centious pleasure. Belial, the patron of world- 
liness, as distinguished from a religious temper ; 
and Mammon, the god of w^ealth, the miser's 
tyrant deity, and the especial tempter of every 
man of business^ if not of every man and woman 

With this preface, we are at no loss to under- 
stand the words of our Lord in the text. The 
occasion, and the circumstances under which they 
were spoken, can be studied at your leisure. 
Their import is sufficiently simple, and the terms 
absolute and emphatic. "Ye cannot serve God 
and Mammon," is plainly equivalent to this, 
viz : You cannot be a true Christian, and at the 
same time be engrossed in the pursuit of riches. 
As our subject this morning is "the Christian in 
his business," I have trusted that these words of 


our adorable Master might not be without their 
good effect. 

In the first place, I remark, that neither 
our text, nor any other passage of Scripture, 
forbids the possession or the accumulation of 
wealth, in a right spirit, and by lawful means. I 
recollect but two instances which might seem to 
contradict this statement; but which are both en- 
tirely reconcilable with it. The first is the case 
of the young ruler, to whom our Saviour said, 
" Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and come, follow me." But this was evidently 
meant to test the sincerity of his feelings, and to 
show him that Jesus Christ may sometimes re- 
quire the willing relinquishment of the highest 
worldly advantages, when they come into compe- 
tition with his service. While, for every such 
case, this instance is still legitimate, and full of 
meaning, I apprehend it would stretch its im- 
port too far to convert it into a universal rule. 

The other instance is that of the primitive 
Christians, who sold their possessions, and 
"brought the money, and laid it at the Apos- 
tles' feet." But this was a voluntary gift; not 
required as a condition of discipleship, not even 
commended by the sacred writer, nor ever after- 
wards practised in the Church. It was a special 
deed for a special period, and as such may well 


be repeated in the cruel emergency of want, to 
which the cause of Christ may be sometimes re- 

That very striking and startling passage, in 
which our Saviour declares, "How hardly shall 
they that have riches, enter into the kingdom of 
God !" and, " It is easier for a camel to go through 
the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter 
into the kingdom of God," is sufficiently explain- 
ed by his following words, in reply to the anxious 
demand, "Who then can be saved?" "How 
hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter 
into the kingdom of God!" and, "With men it is 
impossible, but with God all things are possi- 
ble." It is a solemn caution against the dangers 
of wealth, but not the denouncement of riches as 
a sin. Had it been so, he would never have said 
that salvation was possible, on any terms, to a 
rich man, since God cannot receive a sinner to 
his favour without the total renouncement of 
that which constitutes his guilt; so that if wealth 
were a sin, he must become poor to be saved. 

In accordance with this view are many pas- 
sages of Scripture, which directly warrant the 
possession of riches. They are sometimes de- 
scribed as a special blessing from the Almighty, 
who "giveth us power to get wealth;" and the 
habit of industry is especially encouraged, on the 


ground that "the hand of the dihgent maketh 
rich." The consistency of Scriptural interpre- 
tations, therefore, requires us to suppose that 
the possession of wealth, however dangerous, is 
not necessarily sinful ; and that the gains of hon- 
est industry and skill are a lawful object of hu- 
man pursuit. 

It is interesting to observe how aptly this 
conclusion harmonizes with all just reflection 
upon the nature of man, and the providence of 
God. The nature of man, by the Divine law 
which is impressed upon it, seeks a constant ad- 
vancement. As his intelligence opens wider and 
wider, and his growing mind looks out beyond 
his first narrow condition, he discovers advan- 
tages which he has not; attainments not yet 
reached; conveniences that would relieve his 
toil, enhance his comfort, and minister to the 
wants of those who depend on him for sup- 
port and security. The natural desire for im- 
provement follows after this new intelhgence, 
and he is impelled, from step to step of progress, 
by the very law of his being. And, correspond- 
ing to this natural impulse and power, God has 
opened up to his view a world teeming with the 
seeds of improvement; his providence by de- 
grees unfolds the means by which this improve- 
ment is nursed, discloses the laws of the material 


world, widens all the avenues of knowledge, mul- 
tiplies the human race, strengthens the social 
feeling, increases each man's responsibility, drives 
him to enterprise and invention, rewards him 
with overflowing harvests ; and each new genera- 
tion stands on the shoulders of the last. 

Now, one of the inevitable results of this sys- 
tem of the world, is an increase of all those ad- 
vantages which constitute material wealth. And 
unless we are prepared to assert that. God never 
meant man to establish his supremacy, as an in- 
telligent being, over this lower creation; that 
this rich and bounteous earth was not meant to 
be explored, subdued, and cultivated; that the 
whole tissue of faculties, which invest him with 
a sort of divinity, was meant to be a shroud, 
rather than a robe of power; and that the 
universal pulse of life must stand still un- 
less we debar civilization, we cannot exclude 
wealth. If the poor we shall always have with 
us, it is a part of the same divine decree, that 
there will always be the rich. So that both na- 
ture and revelation, God in the world and God 
in the Bible, confirm the conclusion that wealth 
is not, of necessity, a sin. The natural and ne- 
cessary, and — I would it might be — anxious in- 
quiry with you, is. When is the pursuit of wealth 
a sin? What mean the solemn words of Jesus 
Christ, " Ye cannot serve God and Mammon?" 


Let us proceed, in the second place, to answer 
this question. The dangers of wealth, then, I 
apprehend to consist in our serving it. When 
we make it so important as to control us, then 
'sve become its slaves, and Mammon is our God. 
We may sin in the pursuit of wealth in two 
ways — first, when we pursue it with a wrong 
spirit; or, secondly, by wrong means. 

We pursue it with a wrong spirit when we 
make it a distinct object of our ambition to be 
rich. God has not forbidden that every man 
should reserve a portion of his gains for the time 
of possible sickness, or infirmity, or old age. 
He has not forbidden that a parent should pro- 
vide means for the comfort and education of his 
family when he is dead and gone. On the con- 
trary, he has distinctly said, "He that provideth 
not" — i.e.y does not look out beforehand — "he 
that provideth not for his own, specially for them 
of his own household, hath denied the faith, and 
is worse than an infidel." But when this dutiful, 
domestic prudence becomes transformed into a 
passion for accumulation, the lawful instinct is 
changed to a lust, with all the debasing powder of 
idolatry, and then is realized the full mischief 
denounced by the apostle with such terrible dis- 
tinctness and such cumulative force — " They that 
will be rich; fall into temptation and a snare ) and 


into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown 
men in destruction and perdition. For the love 
of money is the root of all evil, which wliile some 
coveted after, they have erred from the faith and 
pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 
The wrong spirit wdiich perverts wealth into sin, 
is the avaricious love or the covetous desire of 
money. Mark the expression — how truly it 
denotes the idolatry of the passion — "The love 
of money is the root of all evil." 

And what is money ? It is nothing in itself, 
but it represents other possessions. It is the 
mere sign of riches. I do not know that any- 
thing can resemble more truly the insanity of 
heathen idolatry, which bows down to a mere 
image, than that anxious devotion to wealth 
which gloats upon its gains, and takes a real 
satisfaction in counting the gold — which is, after 
all, only representative wealth. What can it be 
but idolatry? — and the idol itself is just as truly 
the work of man as any heathen god. For al- 
though nature has made wealth, man alone has 
created money. And w^hile this very invention 
is one of the proofs of that peculiar intelligence 
which distinguishes him from the brutes — while 
it is a mark of somewhat advanced civilization, 
that he has learned to take the abstract idea of 
value, and embody it in an arbitrary form, which, 


by its representative power, facilitates all the 
operations of commerce, and adds marvellously 
to the conveniences of social life — is it not 
strange that a mere representative figment should 
be to him as a deity, and that the whole circle 
of his passions and affections should be circum- 
scribed within the rim of a dollar? Though 
Mammon may have changed his form, and lost his 
title, he is still a veritable idol, whom we have 
baptized with the name of monejj. 

These remarks may seem to describe the char- 
acter of a confirmed miser, whose only life and 
joy is in hoarding useless gold. Yet, though 
the miser may be the most exquisite specimen 
of this idolatrous character, his is only the same 
passion which may reign and rage in many a 
bosom besides. I have already said that the 
passions will sometimes hold a joint sway in the 
bosom, each strengthening the other, and two idols 
may divide the throne of the heart. It often 
happens that the love of mere worldly pleasure and 
selfish extravagance will co-exist with the passion 
for wealth. The extravagant pleasure makes 
money necessary. The one cannot be indulged 
without the co-operation of the other, and Mam- 
mon is served all the more devoutl}^ in order that 
the heart may pay its oblations at the shrine of 
Belial. The serving of two false gods does not 


diminish the guilt of serving one, and although 
wealth may be sought to purchase pleasure, the 
passion for money has still the debasing character 
of a lust. In the miser it may be avarice, but in 
the fashionable spendthrift it is covetousness, 
selfish still, and execrable by the laws of God. 

Thus much may show how money-making may 
become a sin, from the spirit and motives with 
which it is pursued. I remark again, that it 
may become criminal from being pursued by 
WTong methods. 

Every man has an unquestionable right to the 
price of his labour, his skill, or his commodities. 
All fair commercial intercourse, between man and 
man, is based on the exchange of values. My 
neighbour parts with his superfluities to supply 
my necessity; and I, on the other hand, bestow 
ni}^ spare commodities as the price of that sup- 
ply. By this process each is the gainer; each 
contributes his share to the general comfort and 
well-being of the community. No matter what 
be the material of exchange — the fruits of the 
ground, or the fruits of the brain; mechanical, 
or artistical skill ; labour, or literature ; the doc- 
tor's prescription, or the lawyer's advice — what- 
ever contributes to the physical, mental, or moral 
weal, is a fair material for traflic. 

Such is the simple and only true basis of a 


commerce which shall em^ich the community, 
without wronging the individual. The only jus- 
tifiable method of gaining wealth is one that 
shall be consistent with these fundamental prin- 
ciples; for, in all this, there is no violation of 
the great moral law of honesty and mutual love, 
between man and man. If sometimes an over- 
flowing harvest should increase the riches of the 
farmer, while at the same time a storm or a fire 
shall impoverish the merchant; if there be a rise 
of prices for my neighbour's commodities, and 
no demand for mine — such inequalities of the 
market are under the direction of Divine Provi- 
dence, and whatever gain there be to either 
party, it involves no wrong to the other. My 
loss is not from my neighbor's fault ; the increase 
of his wealth is no sin. 

But suppose that I, by my ingenuity or re- 
sources of any sort, can produce an artificial ine- 
quality in the market. Suppose that I can 
monopolize the whole of any commodity, indis- 
pensable for the common household use of the 
community, arid thus, being the only vender, 
can demand my own price — it is plain that in 
this case I create for that one commodity a value 
that is purely artificial. I destroy the wholesome 
competition which regulates the balance of trade. 
Without adding to the value of the commodity, 


I oblige every citizen to purchase at an arbitrary 
and unnatural price. I put myself in the place of 
Divine Providencej and I levy upon every purse 
a tax, which, though small in itself, is designed 
for the purpose of swelling my own wealth at 
the expense of the community, and for no other 
purpose ; and so I violate the first principle of 
fair, and honourable, and religious trafiic. I must 
be ranked then with him of whom the Holy 
Scriptures speak thus: ''He that withholdeth 
corn, the people shall curse him." The princi- 
ple abides the same, whether it be corn, or cotton, 
or stocks. The value is imaginary. I have done 
nothing that deserves remuneration. My aim is 
to become rich ; not by benefitting my neighbour, 
but by injuring him — all my gain is made up of 
his loss. Such a method is either extortion, or 
fraud; and the motive that impels to it, can be 
nothing but immitigated covetousness. Let who 
will defend or practise this method, the Christian 
cannot do it, and still hold the integrity of a 
conscience void of offence towards God and man. 
My hearers, I had designed to follow out the 
application of this principle into other callings 
than that of the trafiicker; since it may be shown 
that in every calling tlicrc may be methods of 
gaining wealth, which are not consistent with 
our Christian profession, or compatible with a 
Christian conscience. 


But I must leave this to your reflections ; while 
I conclude by reminding you, in the third place, 
of the danger and mischief of the service of 
Mammon. It is the chief danger of the times. 
Moloch has his reign in the periods of strife, 
and anarchy, and conquest. And Ashtaroth has 
with us no public altars ; though she sometimes 
holds out her seductions, and inspires the feeling 
of her profligate worship at your theatres and 
your balls. But in the times of peace, of civili- 
zation, of commerce, Mammon and Behal may 
become the open and acknowledged deities — the 
one, of every counting room; the other, of every 
parlour. The love of money, to feed the love 
of fashionable pleasure, is our peculiar peril; 
and let us remember that it is an all-grasping 
passion. It is never contented with the gains in 
possession. It craves that other dollar. It has 
the fearful power of transmuting good motives to 
bad ; and by its terrible enchantment, turns law- 
ful means into unrighteous ends. When the 
pleasures for which money was hoarded have 
grown stale with age, the spirit of accumulation 
is strongest and fiercest, even to the brink of the 
grave. When the children are educated, and a 
competency for the family is safely invested, the 
lust for gold still grows on till its mammoth bulk 
crowds out every generous and holy feeling from 


the heart. Many a time has the conscientious 
and noble economy of youth degenerated into 
the pitiful and ungodly avarice of old age. Many 
a time has the wealthy Christian exhibited the 
wretched spectacle of a benevolence, narrowing 
in the inverse proportion to his riches; until, at 
last, it was no wider than his grave. 

To guard against this malignant and hellish 
bane of Mammon, God has planted an antidote 
in every regenerated breast, and a prescription 
on the Bible's open page. It is the principle of 
holy benevolence, which gains force by being 
acted out, and makes the Christian less in love 
wath money, the more freely he dispenses it for 
others' good. This is the grand specific against 
avarice. If you would be saved from its guilt 
and its ruin, let each Christian devote his gains, 
even as he has devoted himself, in solemn conse- 
cration, to his redeeming God. Then, riches will 
have lost their power of cursing, and the un- 
righteous Mammon will purchase heavenly habi- 



2 Corinthians vi. 15. 
"What concord hath Christ with Belial?'' 

Last Sunday, in considering the dangers which 
beset a Christian in his business, I remarked that 
the various classes of human passions, with their 
objects, are aptly represented in the Scriptures, 
under the images and titles of idol gods. The 
sanguinary passions are embodied in Moloch; 
the lustful, in Ashtaroth; the covetous, in Mam- 
mon; while those worldly affections which lead 
us to the pursuit of mere pleasure, and so be- 
guile us from our better destiny, are all repre- 
sented by Belial, the god of worldliness. It is 
he to whom the apostle refers in the text, ^^' What 
concord hath Christ with Belial ?" 

In the verses foregoing and following the text, 
he speaks thus: "Be ye not unequally yoked 
together with unbelievers; for what fellowship 



hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and 
what communion hath Hght with darkness ? and 
what concord hath Christ with Belial? or wdiat 
agreement hath the temple of God with idols? 
for ye are the temple of the living God." 
It is evident that he .intended to draw a strict 
and strong line of separation between the ser- 
vants of Christ, and the servants of the world. 
The very form of speech which he has chosen, 
renders the separation more emphatic. Every 
one of these questions is equivalent to a separate 
assertion of the impossibility of union between 
worldUness and godliness. 

As we are to consider the Christian in his 
amusements, I have chosen the words, "What 
concord hath Christ with Belial?" 

If w^e should undertake to answer this ques- 
tion historically, we might say^, A very easy and 
frequent concord. But if w^e should answer it 
according to the essential character of the parties, 
we could not avoid saying, None whatever; they 
can have no concord. Clu'ist and Behal stand to 
each other in the simple relation of antagonism; 
they are not merely iinliJce, but rqnignani. The 
l^leasures of time and sense are not at all like 
those of eternity and the soul : to be devoted to 
the one, is to deny and frustrate the other. 

The phraseology of our text suggests this 


thought, that there are two powers, each con- 
tending with the other for the supremacy of our 
hearts and hves; each, therefore, claiming the aU' 
thority and dominion of a god. Each has erected 
in this world a kingdom. The one has gathered 
his subjects into a body designated by certain 
tokens, and known by the title of " the Church of 
Christ." The other has a host not less numerous, 
denoted by practices not less peculiar, and which 
may well bear the name that has been giA^en to it 
by an able writer, of ''the Church of the Worlcir 
The great question with the Christian is — how 
flir, as a member of the former of these churches, 
he may, without sin, conform to the usages of 
the latter. It cannot be denied that it is a ques- 
tion of real gravity. 

As it is always well, when we can, to deter- 
mine particular questions by general principles, 
we can adjust the subject of amusements in no 
way, perhaps, so comprehensively as by compar- 
ing the characters and purposes of the Church of 
Christ, and the spirit and aims of the World's 

In the first place, then, the character of the 
Christian Church is specified in this phrase — '' Ye 
are the temple of the living God." This lan- 
guage, though figurative, sufficiently denotes the 
high and peculiar vocation of the Christian. It 

264 THE cnmsTLVN in his amusements. 

has a singularity that distinguishes it above all 
other types of character or modes of human con- 
duct, and denotes that God dwells in his Church 
and acts through his Church. 

The Christian's Lord has not left his religion 
to be conserved by the Christian as a mere indi- 
vidual. He has not trusted it to the chances of 
an individual life. He has given it a corporate 
character which never dies out. This Church 
was designed to effect by association what could 
not be so well accomplished by the separate en- 
deavours of Christians. The duties of individual 
Christians are not merged by this union, but 
massed together in one accumulated responsibility 
which rests upon the church to the end of time. 
The great design of the Church then is to embody 
Christianity. It is a perpetual manifestation to 
the world of a system of truth which came down 
from heaven. It is like the monument on Bun- 
ker's Hill, not only a memorial of a great fact, 
but a witness to great principles; though how 
unspeakably exalted above all other monuments, 
since it tells of a world redeemed to freedom ; 
and is built, not of mouldering granite, but of 
living stones, that will endure while the earth 
stands and be a memorial in eternity. 

Looking at the Church then as a manifestation, 
we can understand why it was left to stand in 


the midst of an opposing world. We can see 
why God does not snatch away his ransomed, so 
soon as they are born again, to dwell at once in 
the midst of their final reward. It was because 
he meant the whole sacramental host to be an 
impersonate Christianity; and bring it before 
men's eyes, and so to their hearts and consciences, 
rebuking their sins and showing them a more 
excellent way. To this end it was indispensable 
that the Church and the world should be com- 
mingled. Hence the Saviour, in his last inter- 
cession on earth for his Church, used these re- 
markable words, " I pray not that thou shouldest 
take them out of the world, but that thou 
shouldest keep them from the evil." To the 
same purport are the apostle's words to the Corin- 
thians, " I wrote unto you, not to company with 
fornicators, yet not altogether with the fornicators 
of this world, nor with the covetous, or extortioners, 
or with idolaters, for then must ye needs go out 
of the world. But if any man that is called a 
brother" — i.e., a fellow-Christian — "be a fornica- 
tor, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a 
drunkard, or an extortioner, with such an one, no 
not to eat." By this teaching, then, the Church 
is to be in the world, but not of the world ; com- 
ing into contact with all its vices, but tainted by 
none; exposed to all the world's business and 


pleasures; not abandoning it in selfish carelessness 
but striving to convert it; and all the while keeping 
its own body pure, by salutary discipline, from all 
the guilty excesses and perversions to which both 
pleasure and business are hable. Righteousness 
can have no real fellowship and sympathy with 
unrighteousness, nor spiritual light with spiritual 
darkness, nor the temple of God with idols. 

From the flict that the Church is a manifesta- 
tion, we see again the mistake of those Christians 
who are contented to keep their religion shut up 
in their own bosoms, like a light hidden under a 
bushel. Satisfied with having, as they suppose, 
secured their own salvation, they mingle careless- 
ly with life's perils, and indulge free intercourse 
with the world's worldlings, and manifest no holy 
care for lost souls, no sympathy for their sure 
doom of sorrow, nor ever raise the warning voice 
or lift a finger to save them from the wrath to 
come. Such persons have evidently forgotten 
the nature of the Christian calling as a manifes- 
tation. They forget that by the law of Chris- 
tianity, as well as of nature, no man hvetli to 

The fact that the Church is designed as a 
fer-petiial witness, contradicts the shallow, but 
very common notion, that the character of the 
world is changed, since the Bible was written. 


Not to insist on the obvious thought, that if this 
be so, then the Scrij^tures are no true rule for 
Christian conduct; and that the civilized wis- 
dom of the nineteenth century is better than 
the inspired teaching of the first, it may suffice 
to say, that since the Church, as an institution, 
was designed to be in perpetual contradiction 
to the world, it follows that the world is in 
just such perpetual contradiction to the Church ; 
and if there be in the Church a real power and 
spirit of Christ, so in the world there is a veri- 
table Belial, and these two can have no concord. 
Knowing, then, the main intent of the Christian 
calling, we meet here the question, How far this 
calling is consistent with what are called amuse- 
ments or pleasures of any sort, which have no 
direct bearing upon the salvation of the soul, or 
the conversion of the world. I do not scruple to 
say that they are entirely consistent. I do not 
suppose that the principles of piety were meant 
to subvert the laws of nature, or of the human 
constitution; since they are both the decrees of 
the same infinite wisdom and goodness. Re- 
generation overrules, but does not exterminate 
nature; any more than the new birth of the 
spirit proves that the Christian was never born 
of human parents. As conversion does not pre- 
vent hunger, and thkst, and fatigue, so it does 


not forbid eating, drinking, and sleeping. By the 
very same law of nature, not contradicted by 
grace, the Christian must have his amusements. 
No man can live always at the top of his ener- 
gies, without being overdone and crazed. Long 
excitement, whether of religion, labour, or plea- 
sure, is followed by an inevitable collapse; and 
any measure of excitement demands a propor- 
tionate relaxation. If the bow-string be not 
sometimes loosed, the bow loses the vigour of its 
spring. The labours and duties of religion are to 
be accomplished by the same natural fiiculties 
which are employed in the ordinary business of 
life. The same hands distribute bread to the 
poor, and dispense the sacraments, as are employ- 
ed with the pen or the hoe. The same feet 
carry the Christian on his errands of business 
and of mercy. The same tongue makes the bar- 
gain and the prayer. The same stock of nervous 
energy has to endure the wear and tear of effort, 
whether it be for our own families, or for God. 
Whatever be the employment, fatigue is its neces- 
sary consequence, and fatigue must have repose. 
Shall it be, then, the blank repose of idleness, of 
mere vacuity? or shall it be that better rehef 
which engages, without taxing the fixculties; 
which relaxes the high tension of body and 
mind, without evacuating either, which diverts 


the excitement of the overworked powers, and 
so prevents congestion and disease ? 

Now, on physiological grounds, there can be 
no difficulty in deciding these questions. In all 
just theory, amusements are necessary. Diver- 
sions are a tonic to the animal life, and their 
legitimate use is as a recreation — a significant and 
a useful word. It follows then, that no particu- 
lar diversions are, in theory, wrong. It would 
be both unphilosophical and unjust to the eternal 
majesty and worth of the Gospel of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, to concentrate its rebuke against 
an outward act, as if it were, in and of itself, ab- 
solutely a sin. Such a course would resolve the 
Gospel into a system of rules, instead of large 
and eternal principles; and change Christianity 
back into Judaism. Such a course would make 
piety to consist in mere restraint, and transform 
the evangelical graces into Homish penances, de- 
nying at the same time both nature and grace. 
In theory, the act of dancing is no more irreli- 
gious than any other muscular motion. In 
theory, the music of the opera is no more cor- 
rupting than the breathing melody of an seolian 
harp — God's music. In theory, a theatrical exhi- 
bition is no worse than any other imitation of 
human life and character. In theory, card play- 
ing is a mere interchange of certain figured 


jDieces of paper. It seems to belittle the Gospel 
of salvation to pronounce that these acts, merely 
as acts, are damning to the soul. And yet, I 
apprehend that most Christians would regard 
the Christian who practised them dihgently, as 
giving no very worthy commentary on a rehgious 
profession. And I am sure that the world itself, 
the whole Church of Belial, would rejoice over 
such a Christian, and there would be joy among 
the angels of that Church, that a Christian had 
been born a third time, born back again into that 
last state of Avorldliness which is Avorse than 
the first. 

If diversions are right then in theory, — when, 
how, and wherefore, do they become wrong in 
practice ? 

I presume an answer to this question, which 
would satisfy all parties, is this, — Avhen diversions 
become worldly, they are unchristian. But as 
this answer supposes certain feelings and me- 
thods called w^orldly, it is natural to ask wherein 
worldliness consists. We can answer this ques- 
tion best, by considering what is meant by '' the 
world," for worldliness is the spirit of the world. 

The world, then, in the religious sense, is not 
the great multitude of rich and poor, high and 
low, wise and simple, who make the aggregate 
of the human race; but it is that part of this 


great multitude, who live supremely for the pleas- 
ures of this world alone. The Church of Christ, 
we have seen, lives for God and his joys. This 
is its peculiar vocation. The world's church has 
set its affections on things of this earth. This 
is its peculiar characteristic. In a simple and 
laborious state of society, there would be little 
need to warn the Christian Church against the 
idolatry of Belial, the god of worldl}^ pleasures, 
because neither the condition nor the position of 
its members expose them to this danger. But 
in larger aijd older communities, there is always 
a class possessed of wealth and leisure ; and who, 
from these advantages, exert a controlling influ- 
ence on the manners, practices, and tastes of the 
community. They stand by themselves, and 
claim a certain superiority over others, and pre- 
scribe to them the rules of social intercourse. 
Removed from the necessity of labour and self- 
denial, they naturally seek excitement in variety 
of indulgences, and in the multiplying of luxu- 
ries. The pursuit of pleasure becomes thus the 
one great purpose of their life. As God's Church 
is united by the single aim of eternal glory, so 
this class are joined by this supreme purpose — 
the pursuit of pleasure as their final aim. This 
pervading sympathy constitutes the unity of the 
church of the world. This makes the baptismal 

vow of Belial. Anything that contradicts this, 
is considered out of place in the circles of pleas- 
ure; and the discipline of fashionable life soon 
cuts oft' the oftending member, and purges out the 

^\nv, in carrying out its supreme aim of pleas- 
ure, it is easy to perceive that this class of society 
must be driven to continually new expedients. 
The perpetual round of visits and operas, of dis- 
sipated gaieties of the city in the winter, and of 
watering places in the summer, constitutes the 
life of the circle; and then, to relie;,ve the dull 
uniformity of excitement, there must be a re- 
vival in the church of the world ; new modes of 
amusement must be introduced, and if these 
should chance to trench upon the bounds of a 
chaste and scrupulous propriety, eitlier in dress 
or in attitude, the despotic decree of fashion 
sanctions the encroachment; and as the circle 
lives only for itself and pleasure, the novelty, 
though it be neither pure nor safe, escapes all 
penalty, becomes at once a precedent, and enters 
into the manners of the chcle; and manners are 
only lesser morals. 

Let this description suflice for the church of 
the world's elect. I should deem it no compli- 
ment to yoiu' understandings, to attempt to show 
that, with such a circle, the Chui'ch of Christ can 


have no concord, either of purpose or of practice. 
Its foundation principle is in direct antagonism 
to that of the Christian life ; and to be entirely 
devoted to its practices, would he equivalent to 
a renunciation of Christ's baptism. For this is 
the world, in the exquisite form of its worldli- 
ness. Amusements and pleasures, by whatever 
title, are sinful just in proportion as they are 
tinctured with this spirit, or approach to this sys- 
tematic excess. 

Xow, although I have spoken only of the com- 
paratively small class of the rich and high, who 
by no means constitute an important number in 
the Church of Christ; yet as there are successive 
grades in society, and as this class exercises a 
conceded supremacy, in dictating the canons of 
social intercourse, it happens that its influence 
reaches down to the other classes, who are most 
often found in the Christian Church. An ambi- 
tion springs up among them, to imitate, not only 
the furniture, the equipage, and general ex- 
pensiveness of fashionable life; but still more 
easily to ape its manners and its amusements. 
Thus is verified the adage, that one may as well 
be out of the world as out of fashion. It is then 
the bane has entered the Church. Seeking high 
things for their children, if not for thems^elves. 
Christian parents consent to amusements which 


they once honestly renounced ; and those amuse- 
ments, harmless enough in theory, perhaps, be- 
come positively wrong and unchristian, because 
practised in the spirit of worldliness ; or yielded, 
in spite of conscience, as a concession and a 
sacrifice to the world's god. 

Here lies the radical sin — not in the act, but 
only as the act is an exponent of the motive and 
temper. The ambition is a sin, the violation of 
conscience is a sin, the undue parental indulgence 
is a twofold sin, because it is undue, and because 
it is wilfully exposing the young to temptations 
to which they are peculiarl}^ susceptible, and 
whose indulgence is so perilous to the impres- 
sions of religion, that there can be none more so. 
It is from them that Belial gains most converts, 
by perverting their taste, degrading their ambi- 
tion, sophisticating their feelings, and stifling 
their consciences. When we remember that the 
Church of Christ is to be enlarged from the 
young, if enlarged at all; that they are the only 
ones to take our places when we are gone — I am 
sure you will join with me in lamenting the too 
prevalent idolatry of Belial; unless I shall have 
failed to convince you that Belial and Christ can 
have no concord. 

In this discourse, I have refrained from speci- 
fying any amusements as most liable to be hurt- 


ful to the Christian. It is impossible to assign 
rules of general application. I have aimed only 
to set forth the essential principles of piety, by 
which our choice of pleasures should be regulated 
and controlled. The proper use of these princi- 
ples would lead the Christian to avoid, 1st, those 
amusements which he finds, on trial, to dissipate 
his sober-mindedness, and unfit him for prayer; 
2dly, those most likely to be abused by others, 
through our example; and 3dly, those which, be- 
ing associated with the corrupt fashions of the 
world, have a bad repute. 

If every Christian would bear steadfastly in 
mind, that the world and the Church are in mu- 
tual opposition, and that betAveen Christ and 
Belial is no concord, he would have a godly 
jealousy of the pleasures of the world, and a 
touchstone always at hand, to test the tempting 
amusement. He would himself be shielded from 
the familiar reproach that is launched against the 
cause of Christ by the world, and from that 
fierce and scornful taunt, with which Satan some- 
times wounds his pride of consistency; and that 
most terrible reproof of all, with which his in- 
jured Saviour looks upon him from his cross. 

If these principles were acted out by the 
Church at large, what testimonjMvould the Church 
give to the power of regeneration ! In the world, 


but not of it ; sanctified in her faithful labours, and 
not unsanctified even in her pleasures ; she would 
be bright with peculiar brightness. Even her 
enemies would own her as the temple of the liv- 
ing God, and Belial w^ould not dream of any 
other concord with Christ, than that of total sub- 





1 Corinthians xvi. 2. 

"Upon the first day of the week, let every one of rou 


The support of feeble churches, by those which 
■were stronger and richer, became an early duty 
of the Christian profession. Not many of the 
mighty or noble were called, for God had chosen 
the weak things of the world to confound the 
things that were mighty, and to show the Divine 
superiority of moral force in achieving the victory 
of redemption. Still, as Christians were men, 
and had man's common wants — often aggravated 
by their sacrifice of worldly advantages — they 
became often dependent on each other for the 
support which the world refused to give. 

24 (277) 


This was specially true of those who gave 
themselves to the vocation of the Christian minis- 
try, and whose labours, therefore, involved a 
separation from all common and secular pursuits. 
This providential poverty of the early church 
furnished an admirable opportunity for illustrating 
the grand characteristic of the gospel of Jesus — 
its large love ; and for developing, into early ripe- 
ness, the affections of the regenerated heart. 
By this early history of Christianity, therefore, 
we are taught that benevolence is one of its 
prime and constant duties; and from its primi- 
tive examples we may learn how to practise the 
duty under difficulties. 

In the text St. Paul instructs the Corinthians 
touching both the rule and the measure of their 
Christian almsgiving. '*'Now, concerning the 
collection for the saints, as I have given order to 
the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. On the 
first day of the week let every one of 3'ou lay by 
him in store, as God hath prospered him." It 
would thus appear that the apostle adopted one 
rule for several churches; from which circum- 
stance we may infer that he thought such a rule 
cjenerally expedient. His object seems to have 
been, to establish not onlj'- a habit but a system of 
benevolent action, which should constitute a part 
of the church's life. 


Systematic benevolence, its rule and measure, 
is therefore the subject of the text. 

To many of you the subject is not new. 
Several years ago I brought before you, in a 
pastoral letter, this great Christian duty and its 
sanctions. A plan was then adopted by a num- 
ber of families among us, by which, on every 
Sunday, a collection was made of the offerings 
of each member, and a domestic treasury was 
established for the support of the various objects 
of Christian benevolence. The marked success 
of this plan, in the increase of your gifts of love 
and faith, was a sufficient voucher for its pro- 
priety. By degrees, however — perhaps from my 
neglect to stir up your pure minds by way of 
remembrance — the plan seemed to fall out of use, 
and the subsequent action of this church, in this 
great department of Christian duty, has failed to 
illustrate truly either the abundance of your 
means, or, I trust, the earnestness of your piety^ 
Let me ask you, then, to review some of the con- 
siderations which may be urged in favour of a 
definite system of beneficence, and of its rule and 

First, then, a sysiem of beneficent action in- 
volves the same advantage wdiich belongs to 
system in all other departments of a religious 
life. It enhsts the mighty power of habit for a 


salutary end. Prone, as human life is, to run on 
upon a level, each day repeating itself, with its 
wonted business, like the returning morning and 
night, man grows to be a creature of custom, or, 
as it has been said, a bundle of habits. Every- 
thing without, as well as within him, tends to 
constancy. Excitements, moods of enthusiasm, 
passionate extasies, are rare and extraordinary. 
Disturbed nature loves to return to her old laws, 
and habit soon asserts its claim of prescription. 
In such a state of things religion can never 
maintain its power, unless it conform to the 
nature of man and of the universe. Religion 
itself must be a habit. It must enter in among 
the businesses of life — itself the chief business. 
It must not merely press down the nature of 
man by its occasional vehemence, as the hurricane 
bows the forest tree, but it must live in the cares 
and pleasures of life — a daily influence — like the 
gale, when its fury is changed into the steady 
summer breeze, pressing both stem and branches 
in one permanent bias, and making music among 
the dancing leaves. 

The Christian, who, refusing a system of piety, 
leaves his religious duties to be regulated by his 
impulses and feelings, is sure to suffer from bar- 
renness of soul. Unless his private devotions be 
a matter of systematic habit, he is in danger that 


his devotion will be quite rooted out. He who 
allows himself to abstain from the house of God, 
for a part of the Sabbath, or on the week-day, will 
find inevitably that neglect grows easier wdth 
every w^eek. And to meet the depraving ten- 
dencies of habit of one sort, he must establish a 
practice of a different sort, sanctified, and, above 
all, steady. 

Now this self-policy is no less indispensable 
in our charities, than in our devotions. They 
should be habitual, business like; and arranged, 
if I may say so, on a certain principle of mech- 

I do not indeed believe with some, that our 
rehgious gifts are to be regulated exclusively on 
a principle of mere form, and of cool, conscientious 
system; that they are never to be prompted by 
awakened feeling, occasional sympathy, and ex- 
traordinary appeal. On the contrary, I suppose 
that religion, though a Divine principle, was 
planted in human nature to be humanised ; not 
to stand stark and solitary in the breast, sepa- 
rated from the natural feelings, and sequestered 
from all that the heart naturally loves. The 
sensibilities are not to be tortured and crucified, 
but ruled and sanctified, by the presence and 
power of a heavenly element. The Divine life, 
though, like our ordinary, it should be habitual, 


is just as much exposed to occasional influences, 
th.'it ^vaken it to unwonted activity. The walk 
must, on emergency, sometimes he quickened to 
a run ; the easy exercise, to a vehement struggle ; 
the heart's unfelt pulse, to a throbbing that shall 
seem almost to burst the bosom; and the calm 
respiration of the chest, to the convulsive heaving 
wliich gathers all the strength into a moment of 
effort. And if this is sometimes necessary in 
our animal life, so it is in our mental, and not 
less in our spiritual and religious. Our common 
prayers may sometimes be deepened by a rap- 
ture of devotion; our settled love of Jesus, exal- 
ted even to extasy; our Christian hope may rise 
out of its calm seat of meditation, and soar to 
seize its prize. 

Accordingly, our benevolence may sometimes 
be excited out of its calm mood as a principle, 
into an enthusiasm, as of passion. Some unusual 
distress of Christ's cause, some new picture of 
sorrow, some emergent need in any of the enter- 
prizes of benevolence, may stir the Christian to 
the extraordinary effort with which he might 
rush to snatch a friend from the flames of his 
dweUing. Yet while this occasional excitement 
is allowable, and not unhealthful, in religion and 
in life, it can never become ordinary and constant. 
A man should no more trust to such moods for 


the maintenance of his piety, than wait and depend 
on conflagrations for his bodily exercise. 

Having said thus much on the principle of 
system in our beneficence, let us see the working 
of the principle under the operation of the apos- 
tle's rule. " Upon the first day of the week, let 
every one of you lay by him in store." The rule 
then, is a periodical, a weekly, a Sabbath gift. 

Periodical beneficence has several advantages 
peculiar to itself. The foremost of these, perhaps, 
is that it seems to bring the Christian giver more 
immediately into the presence, and under the eye 
of God. As he deposits his oifering of duty in 
the place consecrated for holy gifts, privately, 
away from the observation of all others, he may 
be naturally led to reflect upon the purpose of the 
contribution, the reasons for the duty, and all 
the associated thoughts that come in with these. 
Perhaps his offering is small, and he may well be 
reminded of the huge debt he owes to redeeming 
love, and a protecting providence. He reflects 
upon the overwhelming need of that world of sin 
and sorrow, for which his alms are designed. 
He scans the methods of grace, reviews the pro- 
mises, forecasts eternity, searches his own heart, 
invokes the omnipotent blessing upon the deed 
of love, which, though it may be to the utmost 
of his means, he feels is far from commensurate 
with the mighty exigencies of a ruined world. 


Whatever be the periods he assigns to himself 
for these gifts of charit}^, the very act of dehber- 
ately separating a portion of his wealth for a 
sacred use, brings his mind into contact ^Yith 
such impressions as these ; and it is impossible 
that he should not be, for the time, more spiritu- 
ally minded, world-forgetting and devout. He 
will form true judgments of life and its purposes, 
and will have imposed a check upon the wanton- 
ness of those feelings of avarice, which thwart 
so habitually the impulses of Christian kindness. 

]Moreover, this private, periodical beneficence, 
begets the hahit of charity, more than such gifts 
as are bestowed under the excitement of public 
appeal; because they are made at a time when 
the heart and mind are in a state more like that 
of ordinary life. A deed, done under unusual 
excitement, may engender a disposition to do 
that same deed again under the same excitement. 
But the habit that grows from such deeds, will 
be only the habit of acting under excitement. 
Its influence will terminate with the occasion; 
and when the flush of feehng shall have spent 
itself, nature falls into collapse, and must sleep, 
in order to recruit. This will never do for a 
Christian. His cool, every-day life, is made up 
by habits; and if his religion is to be for every 
day, his habits must be formed in those moods 
of mind in which he will usuafly be called to act. 


Another advantage of this method of charity 
is, that the motive will be purer, and the gift 
more acceptable to God. A religious gift is 
neither greater nor less, except as God will own 
and bless it. It may be a gift of many dollars, 
or of a single dime. The larger contribution will 
bring no good to giver or receiver, if God blow 
upon it, in scorn of the motive. The lesser gift 
wdll redound to the greater grace of the donor, 
the benefit of the receiver, and the glory of God, 
if, from a loving, humble heart, that gift goes forth 
with faith and prayer. Let us remember that 
the coin which we cast into the Lord's treasury, 
is weighed in scales not adjusted to our standard. 
In the balances of the sanctuary, spirit has 
weight, and a grain of grace is heavier than 
pounds of gold. 

Now, when we make our contributions in pub- 
lic, or under the eyes of men, we often give from 
ostentation, like Pharisees ; we often give from 
fear of shame; often from the stress of con- 
science, and its rod; often from mere natural 
generosity; and, in either case, we give without 
that cordial regard' for Christ and his cause, that 
humble love, that deems it a blessing to give ; 
in which alone the grace of charity consists. This 
dangerous liabihty is obviated by the method of 
private, deliberate, periodical contribution. 

I may add to these considerations another, 


A'iz : that a system of periodical charity will se- 
cure, for the cause of benevolence, both more 
donors and more donations. 

It will secure more donors, because there are 
some, in CAxry church, who feel that the Httle 
which they can give of their poverty, is hardly 
worthy to be publicly offered; and rather than 
appear to give so little as they must, they may 
decline to bestow even w^hat they can. These 
smaller beneflictions, wdien made periodically, 
easily swell from small to great, and soon be- 
come of magnitude enough to be thought not 
unworthy of the altar of the sanctuary. 

And besides the increased number of donors, 
there will be a multiplication of gifts. If you 
have no other sj^stem of charity, than the public 
and occasional one of the church, you will feel 
called upon to give, only when you are here to 
be asked. Your absence, on that occasion, would 
then be a loss to the cause, and to your own 
spiritual welffire. A year might pass without 
bearing its fruits of love from you to God; be- 
cause you depended on the occasion of charity 
offered you by the minister, rather than on the 
system adopted for yourself 

But I pass to consider the remainder of the 
apostle's rule, which I must do very bricfl3^ The 
gifts are to be not only periodical, but at short 


periods; weekly, as God hath prospered you 
during the week. I am well aware, that with 
our present methods of business it would be 
quite impracticable, for most of you, to determine 
how much a week's prosperity w^ould be. Then 
let the best approximation to an estimate be made 
tueeJiIij. Keep up, at least, to the sjnrit of the 
rule, and give something, in faith ; and wdien the 
account is taken of your profits, if it be only 
once a year, you will be ready to compensate, if 
need be, the deficiencies of the fifty-two weekly 

Let it be on the first day of the week; a 
Sabbath offering, because it is a Sabbath deed, 
and there is none more worthy of the sacred 
day. When the shop is shut, and the exchange 
is still, and the tongue of the chafferer is tuning 
itself to other strains; when the admonishing 
bell rings out its jubilate, and all things signalize 
the day, of all others, far the best; let your first 
Sabbath deed, after consecrating the day to God 
and your soul, be an humble, grateful, prayerful 
gift to your adorable Redeemer. Let this be the 
Sabbath rule of your household, of all your 
households; and I say, not simply that the 
treasury of the Lord may be filled from your 
open hearts and hands, but that the bounty of 
your covenant God would overflow, to the huge 


increase of your spiritual wealth ; for he would 
open the windows of heaven, and pour out a 
blessing, that there should not be room enough 
to receive it. 

Such is the system and rule of Christian be- 
neficence. Its measure — " As God hath jorospered 
you" — is a large measure to some, but it is a 
measure for each and all. "As God hath pros- 
pered you" — prospered you in health, as well as 
in wealth ; in your family, as well as in your 
business. Give him a return from each profitable 
venture, or bargain, or investment. Render him 
golden tribute for every special mercy, a thank- 
offering for your child's recovery from sickness ; 
for your safe return from sea; for every demon- 
stration of Providence, which has made you feel 
that a mighty arm was stretched out over you, 
and that you and your welfare were in the hand 
of a sovereign and most gracious God. 



Psalm xvii. 15. 


The seventeentli Psalm seems to have been 
composed during one of those seasons of afflic- 
tion, which overcast the summer of king David's 
life ; when, perhaps, fleeing from the angry pre- 
sence of Saul, hunted like a partridge in the 
mountains, wearied and oppressed with life, he 
sat himself down in the shelter of some cliif, and 
sang forth his soul's longings to God. 

In the perusal of this Psalm, it is very observ- 
able, that the hope of the holy man was contem- 
plating something, not only better, but very dif- 
ferent from anything the world bestows. It was 
not that he knew there were riches in store for 
him, greater than those of his enemies ; nor was 
it an earthly distinction, that should overtop and 

25 (289) 

290 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

outshine the best honours of king Saul. He 
might have had this joy, had he but looked for- 
ward to the oncoming years of his life, when the 
outcast David should become the most exalted 
of Israel's favoured kings. But pomp, and pa- 
geantry, and regal state, were not the objects of 
his soul's coveting. The fervent spirit that moved 
him, was the same as we hear breathing in the 
sweet strain of another psalm — "My soul hath 
a desire, yea, even a longing, to enter into the 
courts of the Lord — my heart and my flesh cry 
out for the living God." "Blessed are they that 
dwell in thy house : they shall be always prais- 
ing thee." It is most evident the Psalmist's de- 
sires were unearthly; not only because they 
pointed to a reward greater than the earth can 
yield, but because they were of a kind not born 
of the earth. It was a delight, as purely spiri- 
tual as any we can conceive, when he exclaimed, 
" I shall behold thy face in righteousness : I shall 
be satisfied when I wake up in thy likeness." 
I take this to be a very proper test of a renewed 
and converted mind, that it longs for spiritual 
prosperity, more than for all other joys. I can 
think of no characteristic so pure, and no proof 
of a man's piety so undeniable, as that which 
makes him desire to go to heaven, simply because 
God is there. 

THE christian's satisfying portion. 291 

Since piety is the same in all ages, and since 
heaven is unchangeable, every true Christian 
will entertain the same desires as the Psalmist, 
and will aspire after the same objects. The mind 
that is renewed in the image of God, will take 
delight in nothing so much as in growing more 
and more like its Maker and Eedeemer. And, 
therefore, I have chosen as our subject to-day, 
the Christian's satisfying portion — in the hope 
that our meditations on it may lead the steadfast 
to become more steadfast; the afflicted to find 
matter of high comfort and peace; the unsteady 
and double minded, to fasten their affections in 
heaven, as by an anchor; and the worldly, and 
unspiritual, and backsliding, if there be any such, 
to feel they are defrauding their souls; and to 
turn back after the blessedness they spoke of, 
when first they saw the Lord. 

That we may reap such fruits, we pray to thee, 
thou Holy Spirit of the Father, and Spirit of 
the Son, that thou wouldst touch our lips with 
fire from God, and make our hearts to burn 
within us, Avith the love of thee. 

The Christians satisfying portion. It is found 
with God ; contemplating God ; being assimilated 
to God. "I shall behold thy face in righteous- 
ness : I shall be satisfied when I wake up in thy 

292 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

The text evidently suggests this order of re- 
mark : 1st. The vision of God — "I shall behold 
thy face." 2dly. Assimilation to God — "When 
I awake in thy likeness." odly. The satisfac- 
tion resulting from this state — "I shall be satis- 
fied" with it. 

1st. The vision of God. "I shall behold thy 
face in righteousness." 

What is the vision of God? Is it a vision of 
the natural eye? Shall we gaze upon Deity as 
we gaze on the meridian sun ? Is there a quality 
that enfolds its nature in such a way that we 
can survey, with our bodily faculties, the illus- 
trious presence into which we are ushered? I 
think the question may be answered in the af- 
firmative. We know that in heaven there will 
be the redemption of the whole man. We are 
assured that these mortal frames of ours shall, in 
the process of dying, lose nothing but their mor- 
tality; that they shall rise again, and ascend up 
to the skies, spiritual and undying, but bodies 
still; wearing the form of bodies, and endowed 
with all the faculties of human beings. If heaven 
be the home of the redeemed, it will be the home 
of their whole nature ; and as the Scriptures de- 
scribe the many visible forms of glory and beauty 
there — angels and archangels, and all the bright 
hierarchy of heaven; white robes, and a bright 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 293 

throne — to be beheld in that resurrection state — 
may we not suppose that if these forms shall be 
present to the eye, much more will there be an 
exhibition of that presence which makes every 
thing in heaven beautiful ; and without which, 
heaven would be only hke a dark pit? K God 
is there, then — God, the head and substance of 
glory — will he not manifest himself in the efful- 
gence of his uncreated light? Will not every instinctively turn to drink in the luxury of 
vision, and to gaze on the splendour of Jehovah 
manifested ? 

The renewed man shall look right upon God 
in his splendid manifestation, on what the Psalm- 
ist calls the face of God ; and instead of being 
overwhelmed and blinded with insufferable splen- 
dour, shall find it yield a sensible and exquisite 
delight, such as the richest pleasure of vision 
cannot now approximate. 

And I think this view of the matter is fiivoured 
by another consideration. Heaven is represented 
to us as the scene of the loftiest adoration and 
worship, and hence there must be found there all 
the facilities for the intensest devotion. We know 
how any affection of the soul is enhvened by the 
presence of its object. The calm flow of habitual 
love is often quickened to a rush, when the one 
who is beloved stands unexpectedly before us in 

294 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

person. The admiration that was stirred by a 
poet's song, shall be immeasurably deepened when 
we go and stand in the midst of the scenes he 
has described. The laws of our impulses seem 
to require, that in order to the deepest emotion 
there must be not only a deep sensibility, but a 
sensible object. Now, when our human nature, 
with all its faculties woven about it like a tissue, 
is exalted up to heaven, will not the same prin- 
ciple hold good ? Will not this law of our hu- 
manity be as valid and operative there as here? 
And in order that we may enjoy the best rapture 
of devotion, will it not be in a measure necessary 
that the object our souls adore shall be manifested 
to the natural eye ; so that the entire humanity 
shall be engrossed, and the outward as well as 
the inward man, bestow its faculties, and find its 
dehght, in the contemplation of God's glory ? 

What honour God has conferred on these cor- 
ruptible bodies ! What an exalted destiny for 
these frail faculties of sense! Now, they often 
vibrate painfully, as some rough event of life 
sweeps over them, like a rude hand trying the 
strings of a harp; and sometimes they are all 
unstrung by disease, as if the harp were dis- 
mantled, and its music gone ; but in heaven they 
shall be braced again, and never fall out of tune. 
The body shall be fitted, by its regeneration, for 


the pure delights of immortality. The eye shall 
never be tired of seeing, nor the ear of hearing 
the delicious things of God's abode. The facul- 
ties shall be constantly awake with lively sensi- 
bility, and the harp of thousand strings shall 
discourse of the glory of God forever more. 

Yet this is, after all, the lowest view of heaven. 
Refined as our senses may be, they will be still 
subsidiary to the yet more refined soul. Must 
there not be in heaven the same correspondence 
and relation that now subsist between the spirit 
and body in every renewed man and woman? 
The soul shall always have the pre-eminence. 
The body shall be always its minister to serve it. 
I suppose that when the Psalmist speaks of be- 
holding God's face, he has a higher meaning than 
this. Is there not a sense in which the soul it- 
self shall behold God? Just as the eye will 
survey his natural glories — why may not the soul 
have a vision of its own, by which it will con- 
template the intellectual and moral aspect of 

This view will not be contested by any one 
who would disrelish the grossness of a Mahome- 
tan heaven, or the tameness of an arcadian Para- 
dise. We know that the chief excellence of 
Jehovah must be, and is, something more and 
better than a material splendour. We might 

296 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

guess that the Infinite Sphit would not be con- 
tent with an outward brightness, when he had 
only to put forth the volitions of his moral nature 
to make the universe bow down before the in- 
effable splendour of the perfect Godhead. 

And these conjectures are strikingly in accor- 
dance with the Divine revelation of himself. Je- 
hovah evidently refers his primest glory to the 
moral attributes which clothe his nature. He 
speaks of himself in one passage of the Scriptures 
as "He is glorious in holiness)' and in another 
place, when Moses is said to have prayed that God 
would show him his glory, the prayer was granted, 
and the answer was, " I will cause all my good- 
ness to pass before thee." And we find the 
apostle lost in admiration of the Divine glory, as 
it was disclosed in the imsdom of redemption. 
With the spirit of inspiration for our prompter, it 
is evident that the best glory of the Godhead is 
his moral and mental excellence; and when the 
Psalmist speaks of the face of God, we are to 
understand his words in the eminent sense of the 
immediate unveiling and display of God's spiritual 
nature, so that, as St. John says, "we shall see 
him as he is." 

I feel, at this moment, that we are trenching 
upon ground that is not all our own. We are 
coming nigh the limits where human faculties 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 297 

halt; and are obliged to confess themselves beg- 
gared and broken down. When we start the 
question. How shall the soul look upon the ab- 
solute and abstract qualities of God's moral 
nature? — how will our mental operations differ, 
when we come into the presence of the Almighty, 
from the manner of their exercise on earth ? — we 
are obliged to confess that it cannot be described. 
If any of us had been drilled in this exercise 
of glory, he could not describe it so that it could 
be realized and understood by another, any more 
than the mole can understand why the eagle is 
not blinded when he soars into the sunlight. 

Yet the subject is not without its instruction 
in this very respect. You have only to suppose 
your faculties dilated, and lifted up indefinitely; 
and you may then believe, at least, that it will be 
possible for the soul directly to contemplate God, 
as the source and fountain of all mental and 
moral excellence. "We can see, too, that such a 
vision of the Godhead must be most ennobling. 
Here we are blessed with the revelations of him, 
which are only partial and fragmentary. God is 
in the universe, but we must travel over the uni- 
verse to learn the extent to w^hich his disclosures 
run. We find one attribute here, and yonder 
we track the footsteps of another. Now it is 
wisdom, then it is power, and again goodness, 

298 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

and justice, and truth; and from these scattered 
workings of God we may combine a notion of his 
whole essential character, and learn that God has 
a path in this world in which he walks. But 
these, after all, are only the hidings of Deity. 
It is God we see, but it is a God who concealeth 
himself. Our present apprehension of him is just 
enough for proof — our whole knowledge is only 
deduced and inferential. We suppose what God 
is by seeing what God does. 

But shall it be so in heaven? I understand a 
stronger meaning to be wrapped up in the ex- 
pression, " Beholding God." It seems reasonable 
to suppose that the soul shall then, by an intui- 
tion, as if it had an eye, gaze right at the attri- 
butes of God, and not at the remote workings 
of those attributes. It shall look upon those at- 
tributes assembled, and not one by one; and, 
instead of admiring the scattered glory of God's 
particular dealings, shining like different stars; 
we shall stand before the concentrated splendour 
of his moral perfection, and not be overpowered 
nor dismayed. We shall not have to say, as 
we say now, of the Almighty, "This work is 
mighty," and " That plan is wise, and these deal- 
ings are right, and God's word is truth;" for it 
is not the separate acting out of these qualities; 
it is their repose which we shall see, when they 
are gathered together, as to their home in God. 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 299 

We shall see the very truth itself, and right- 
eousness itself, and eternal wisdom, and poAver, 
and love, in their perfect essence, and their com- 
bined spendour. Nay! we shall see God ; i. e., 
not only these attributes of his excellency, but 
God, the substantial Deity ; more full, more ex- 
cellent, than the qualities which he puts on like 
a garment. Him shall we behold. Christians, if 
we are true to our calling. Him, wdio is the eter- 
nal substance of glory, and who makes all his 
attributes glorious, by uniting them to himself* 
We shall see him if we make good our calling 
and election. 

But it is time to proceed to the other topic, 
associated with this vision of God, viz : assimila- 
tion to him ; being made in his likeness — "When 
I awake in thy hkeness," says the Psalmist. 

2dly. We are not, of course, to understand this 
expression absolutely, and in its widest meaning. 
To be in the likeness of God, cannot signify to 
be like him in his essential nature, or in his infi- 
nite attributes ; for it may be very forcibly ques- 
tioned, whether there could be two infinite beings, 
and not less reasonably, whether a creature could 
be made infinite by any power. There must be 
certain attributes of the Godhead which cannot 
be communicated to another; both because some 
attributes can be possessed by only one, and be- 

300 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

cause, if bestowed, the nature of a created thing 
would not be capacious enough to hold them. 

It is the peculiar madness of sin, however, 
that it aims at this very impossibility. The 
wickedness of the natural heart essentially con- 
sists in this, that it aspires to be like God, in su- 
premacy, and wisdom, and power : aspires after 
those incommunicable attributes, which it were 
impossible for God to alienate, and only impious 
for the creature to desire. There is, however, 
an imitation and likeness of God which is both 
possible and most blessed. -There are qualities 
of the Deity which may be communicated to his 
creatures, and which his creatures may receive ; 
not in such a way as to make them infinite, but 
in such a way as to fill the largest measure of 
their nature with a most rich and happy grace. 

We know, for example, that God may impart 
to the soul of his child a portion of his own be- 
nevolence; so that the regenerated man shall 
exhibit the gentleness, and tender-heartedness, 
and generosity, and self-sacrifice, of love un- 
feigned. And we know that the Almighty Giver 
may change the natural heart of sin, and fill it 
with such a love for righteousness; such purity 
of the moral sense; such a hatred of sin, even 
in the thought, that you might say. There is the 
image and likeness of God. 

THE christian's satisfying portion. 301 

And this is always the case in regeneration, 
yet always in a limited degree. The likeness of 
the regenerate to God is, in this life, disfigured 
and obscure. There is, in a renewed soul, the 
longing after higher degrees of holiness, and a 
growing disgust with merely worldly enjoyments. 
Yet this feeling constantly labours against the 
inborn propensity to sin. Sometimes the carnal 
propensity conquers, and sometimes the upward 
tendency of his new nature. Many an agony 
does the child of God endure from this inward 
battle of the old and new natures. Many a 
groan of mental suffering has reached God's ears, 
when he has watched the strife of his beloved 
one wrestling with sin. How often have tears 
of piety gushed forth, because the heart had 
yielded so easily to the world, or the flesh, 
or the devil; and the cry of anguish and 
despondency broken out, when the Christian 
looked upon himself, " 0, wretched man that I 
am, who shall deliver me from the body of this 

In this life, then, we cannot say there is a 
perfect assimilation of the soul to God ; but there 
will be a completed likeness in heaven. There, 
the tendencies of piety will be matured. The 
scars of sin upon the soul be obliterated, like 
vile defacements. Nothing that defile th shall 

302 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

any longer cleave to the new creature ; and as 
he walks forth in the streets of the New Jerusa- 
lem, the pearly gates, the shining robes of salva- 
tion, and the bright glory of .God and the Lamb, 
shall be only the proper accompaniments of his 
state and condition, as a child of God, the hvmg 
likeness of his Father. 

But let me call to your notice the connection 
of this topic with the other just now discussed. 
The language of the text seems to imply, that 
the soul's likeness to God is somehow influenced 
by the vision of him ; as if the sight of God 
had such a transforming power as to change the 
soul into his own image. After the same man- 
ner, the apostle expresses himself : " Beloved, 
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not 3^et 
appear what we shall be; but we know, that 
when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for 
we shall see him as he is." The vision and the 
likeness are obviously connected, as cause and 
effect. God is beheld, the beholder becomes 
filled with God; just as the mirror sheds back 
the light, as if itself were light; just as the wax 
shows the true image of the seal; just as the 
man, who is familiar with fine models of charac- 
ter, and has discoursed much with noble senti- 
ments, becomes himself noble-minded and up- 
right; just so will the presence of Jehovah's 

THE christian's SATISFYINa PORTION. 303 

moral glory shine back from the Christian in 
heaven; just so will you see the stamp and im- 
press of God upon his soul ; so will his affections 
grow utterly pure, from this divine communion. 
His piety will fasten itself on God's own presence, 
and shall never waver any more, and his will 
shall fall in and flow on with the current of 
God's will, so that there shall be no discrimina- 
tion; and you might say, the moral nature of 
that restored sinner is in the very likeness of 

Blessed and glorious inheritance, where ye 
inherit the fulness and excellence of God ! Holy 
and blessed family of Christ; actuated by one 
will, filled with one everlasting affection, bound 
forever to God, contemplating God, and more and 
more ravished with every pulse of life, because 
ye are growing more and more hke the perfect 
and blissful Being whom ye serve ! His purity 
makes you pure. His loveliness changes you to 
love. His blissfulness fills you with bhss; and 
ye know it must always be so, because God can- 
not die. 

odly. We were to speak of the satisfaction re- 
sulting from the vision and likeness of God, as 
our third topic. 

"When I awake with thy likeness, I shall be 
satisfied." I take this to be the very expression 

304 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

that signifies a perfect bliss. If I were desired 
to point out the language that should denote a 
delight, totally different from any in this world, 
I should select this one word, '-satisfaction." 
Excitement can be had from ten thousand sources, 
here on earth; exhilaration is not an uncommon 
state of feeling ; a sort of timiultiwns raptiwe, you 
may find in many scenes and passages of human 
life ; but a perfect satisfaction and repose, you 
never found, nor heard of, beneath the skies. 
Times change, pleasures change, and we change ; 
and there is no rest to the mind, and where there 
is no rest, there is no consciousness of enjoy- 
ment. The excitements of human life spring 
mainly from hope — the desire of something we 
have not; so that our whole career is a constant 
reaching forward for something to satisfy our 
craving. Uneasiness, then, is the great feature 
of the human condition; and who can say that 
uneasiness is bliss ? You cannot suppose such a 
state of things in the presence of God. The 
joy of beholding God, and being in his likeness, 
is a present joy; a good already in possession; 
deep and large too, as the soul can contain. 
'' Filled Avith the fulness of God," is the apostle's 
expression, most significant of a complete satisfac- 
tion. Whenever the mind shall put itself forth 
to know more of God, knowledge meets the de- 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 305 

sire; and the knowledge of God is happiness. 
Whenever the soul shall be thrilled with the con- 
sciousness that it belongs to God, and is like 
God; that very exercise only gives a new fitness 
for heaven, for it is a new relish for holiness. 
And so you perceive how heaven may well be 
called a state of satisfaction; and hoAV satisfac- 
tion may represent heaven, because the soul can 
ask no more. The supply is foremost of the de- 
mand. God fills the soul. 

I just now spoke of some of the sorrows of a 
Christian; and I glance again at the subject, be- 
cause it goes further to show why immortal glory 
may be called satisfaction. I spoke of the Chris- 
tian struggling w^ith sin and Satan; and Satan 
and sin assail him in a thousand forms. Some- 
times wdien the child of God is drifting on the 
sea of troubles, and wave after w^ave rolls over 
him, till he is ready to sink, there will rise up in 
his mind the spirit of a rebellious complaining. 
He will turn up his eye io God, as if he would 
remonstrate against the discipline. "All thy 
waves and thy billows are gone over me." "Is 
it thus thy children are treated ? Wilt thou never 
stay thy hand, God? Wilt thou crush thy 
worm to death?" 

I say nothing in extenuation of such a state 
of feeling; but mention it only to say, that in 

306 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

his exaltation to the presence of God, the Chris- 
tian will see the reason of the dispensation; the 
perfect, resj^lendent- righteousness of God's deal- 
ings. His blindness will be made light; of his 
discontent, he will be ashamed. He has seen 
God. He has been instructed in the Divine 
plans. He is charmed with the fitness of his 
ow^n dark, bitter trials. He looks up, and with 
child-like gratitude and tenderness, exclaims, "I 
am satisfied." 

And then, moreover, there are strange misgiving 
thoughts ^\4iich the Christian has when God suffers 
his cause to be disgraced. Wicked sinners tram- 
ple it into the dust. Wicked Christians are 
ashamed of Christ. The best devised plans for 
the Saviour's honour are all made vain; and the 
w^orld seems fast sliding into the yoke of Satan 
forever. And there are not w-anting moments 
then, when a doubt shows its horrid head, "Can 
there be a God that judgeth the earth ? Is there 
a power in the universe that loves righteousness 
infinitely? Then where is it? Why does not 
the Governor, if there be one, stretch forth his 
right arm and avenge his injured name ?" Heaven 
dissipates that doubt. You shall see the unfold- 
ing of this involved plan of Providence, and 
every page of the book shall be luminous with 
Divine wisdom. Ye shall see it w^hen ye have 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 307 

seen God, and are made like him. What ye 
know not now, ye shall know hereafter. ''In 
patience, possess ye your souls, and then ye shall 
be satisfied." 

I might travel through the detail of a Chris- 
tian's doubts, fears, hopes, surmises, and trials, 
and show that they shall be scattered in heaven. 
I might touch upon the many subjects into which 
human curiosity, whether pious or criminal, has 
thrust itself; the permission of moral evil, the 
prosperity of the wicked, the casting down of 
the church. We are in a labyrinth of dark won- 
ders here ; we shall be in a vast plain of bright- 
ness and knowledge when we behold God, and 
''when we awake in his likeness, we shall be 
satisfied" with all he does. 

But there is one mighty theme that now moves 
the deep curiosity of every soul whom Christ 
has washed with his saving blood, to which we 
ought to give a notice. It is a theme the world 
gives little heed to. 

But the angels desire to look into it. It was 
a most profound deep to St. Paul, when he ex- 
claimed, "Oh, the depths!" and we think the 
more we are like God, the more will the subject 
engage and captivate our minds. Must we say 
that theme is Redemption ? We know something 
of Redemption now. We know its fiicts, but 
not all its princijjles and springs. 

308 THE christian's satisfying portion. 

A Saviour died, we know, for an apostate 
world. He was God, miraculously incarnate. 
He lived and died, as the world says, most igno- 
bly; but not in vain. He came on a wonderful 
errand. He discharged his mission wonderful}3^ 
The salvation he wrought out and finished is a 
wonderful salvation; and by means of it lost 
souls have been snatched from the brink of per- 
dition, and made heirs of God. These are facts 
which we know ; and we know the grand motive 
that projected the plan. Love, Divine love. In- 
finite tenderness and compassion for the guilty! 

But there are things we do not know. The 
mode of the covenant relation between the Fa- 
ther and the Son ; the extent to which the death 
of Christ affects other worlds than ours; but, 
above all, and what lifts up our souls with holy 
curiosity more than all, the nature and fulness 
of Divine love. Here is the deep of deeps. 
There will, no doubt, be exquisiteness of dehght, 
in traversing the scheme of salvation, and dis- 
covering new adaptedness and fresh beauty in it, 
at every step. There will, no doubt, be amazing 
bliss in beholding unthought-of developments of 
redemption; as, perhaps, world after world sends 
up to heaven its new recruits of salvation, pur- 
chased by Christ's blood. There will be rever- 
ence and child-like joy in the display of holy 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 309 

justice, and holy truth, in the salvation of the 
cross; but the ineffable feeling, the joy that is 
unspeakable and full of glory ; the utter satisfac- 
tion of the soul, will doubtless be found in be- 
holding the length, the breadth, the depth, the 
height, of God's love for sinners. Wherever we 
gaze, there will be love; for God himself is love. 

We cannot measure it now, nor can we fathom 
it thoroughly then. But we can swim in that 
great ocean. We can dive down, and explore its 
depths. We can drink of its blessed waters. 
We shall be with it. W^e shall be in it. It shall 
be in us. We shall ourselves he it, all love; for 
we shall be in the likeness of God, and we shall 
be satisfied. 

But now what need we say more, although 
you have not yet a tithe of the matter of this 
high discussion ? Yet it is time we should close 
our discourse, w4th a word of admonition. 

You see the importance and dignity of a soul. 
Some treat it as if it had little w^orth, and no 
immortality. They pamper the senses, but feed 
not the spirit. You perceive they are defraud- 
ing themselves of their immortality. 

You see, again, the indispensableness of being 
born again, in order to see God in his kingdom. 
Yet you will find persons who would shudder, if 
they were obhged to behold him face to face; 

310 THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 

and who crowd their life with all manner of occu- 
pation and pleasure, to shut the thoughts of him 
from their minds. They are as near eternity as 
you and I ; and the next meal, or the next ride, 
or the next east wind, may bring them their 
death. Their present life is the seed of their 
eternal. They plant indifference, they will 
gather torment. They sow to the wind, and 
they will reap the whirlwind. But they care 
not for it; and if you urge them, by the satisfy- 
ing glory of eternity, on the one hand, and by 
its miserable absence on the other, they will not 
heed you, nor turn out of their w^ay to save their 
souls. Christians, you may weep for them. You 
may, and must pray for them; but they cannot 
go with you to enjoy God. You must part with 
them at the gates of glory. 

And now, m}^ dear Christian friends, are your 
hearts ready to behold God? Are your desires 
in heaven? Do you live a spiritual and heavenly 
life, walking with God ? Oh ! think often of your 
inheritance, and how you will spend your eternity. 
You are noAV in the gymnasium of heaven. As 
you improve your privileges, so will your glory 
be. You cannot deny Christ here, and enjoy 
him there. You cannot prefer the world now, 
and be satisfied with the likeness of God here- 
after. The same heart you have on earth, you 

THE christian's SATISFYING PORTION. 311 

will carry to your home. Keep it pure then 
from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; for only the 
pure in heart shall see God. 

And if any of you are seeking consolation 
under trial, remember the vision of God. You 
shall be with him, and he shall wipe away your 
tears. You shall behold him, and understand 
why you are afflicted. You shall awake in his 
likeness, and be satisfied. 

^^ Wherefore comfort one another with these 



Jeremiah xii. 5. 

" If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wea- 
ING OF Jordan ?'' 

In the general decline of piety among his peo- 
ple, the Prophet utters his complaints to the ear 
of his God. But not rebelliously nor proudly. 
He jDrefaces his mournful expostulation with the 
profound acknowledgment of the perfect righte- 
ousness of Jehovah, and thus forefends the charge 
of presumption. He speaks as an inquirer; 
searching, as a pious inquirer may, into the mys- 
teries of a moral government, and interrogating 
the dealings of Divine Providence, to learn their 
drift and meaning. ^''Righteous art thou, 
Lord, when I plead with thee, yet let me talk 
with thee of thy judgments." 


He then proceeds to ask wh}^ the wicked pros- 
per, and how long the land shall mourn for then' 
wickedness. Then follow the words of the text, 
which we may regard either as the reply of the 
Lord to the Prophet, or as the Prophet's own 
inspired demand of the wicked themselves : "If 
thou hast run with the footmen, and they have 
wearied thee, then how wilt thou contend with 
horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein 
thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt 
thou do in the swelhng of Jordan?" 

The imagery of the words is c[uite striking 
and characteristic. If in a trial of speed with 
men, your natural equals, you have been beaten, 
how will you contend with horses, your born su- 
periors in fleetness? Or, if in the sunny and 
quiet times of Palestine, w^hen the Jordan frolics 
along its channel, or eddies in its pebbly pools, and 
belts the whole land w^ith its silver sheen; wdien 
the earth laughs with plenty, and the garniture 
of its summer beauty — if even then you have 
complained of hardships and tediousness, what 
will you do when that same Jordan, swollen with 
the mountain floods, shall chafe, and rush, and 
overflow, driving the wild beast from his covert, 
and whelming the harvest field with untimely 
flood, sweeping away your homes and desolating 
the land with a deluge ? What will you do then ? 


The moral of this pictorial question is, If the 
lesser evils of life are too much for you, how will 
you cope with the greater? or. If you are not 
equal to meeting the dispensations of time, how 
can you bear the awards of eternity? If you 
cannot act among men as becomes a man, how 
can you meet your God ? If you are troubled by 
the pains of conscience, and the disquiet of un- 
forgiven sin, how can you confront the great 
heart-searching Judge upon his throne? 

You see how broad is the scope of the general 
principle embodied in the text. We may apply 
it variously to several classes of persons usually 
found in a Sunday congregation, if not to the 
various moods of the same persons at different 

Inasmuch as these words were first addressed 
to the Prophet on occasion of a general state of 
irreligion, so the Christian may accept them as 
adapted to himself. 

No earnest-minded follower of Christ can look 
abroad upon the generation in which we live, 
without anxiety for the genuineness of the faith, 
and the prosperity of the cause of the Hedeemer. 
He sees a wide-spread nominal Christianity. He 
sees the church gathering into itself persons from 
all the various classes of men. He sees the 
Christian name so honourable, that to refuse that 


title to any man, is deemed almost an indignity. 
He finds that, whatever else may be thought of 
his Master, the once despised Nazarene is uni- 
versally acknowledged to have been the most 
remarkable personage that ever trod the road of 
human life. He beholds the several bands, who 
call themselves Christians, engaged with surpass- 
ing energy in the various enterprises for propa- 
gating the faith, and doing good to men. And 
if he looked no further, he might take up his 
jubilate, and sing the triumph of the cross. But 
further he can hardly look without seeing a sight 
that arrests the premature thanksgiving on his 
lips, and sends back the current of his cooled 
blood to his heart again. For he sees labouring 
side by side with the church, labouring with 
equal energy, the hostile power of the world. 
That vehemence of zeal, which, at first sight, 
seemed a growth of pure grace, he discovers to 
be only a natural working out of human nature, 
in a certain stage of its civilization. The world 
is still the world, as much as when Christ pro- 
claimed its essential antagonism to him; but 
with this great and ominous difference, that in- 
stead of meeting Christianity face to face, and 
rushing to an open onslaught, it travels the same 
road, under the shadow of the same red cross 
banner, and pretends a courteous alliance with 


the saints of God. The world no longer calls 
itself the world. Infidelity no longer owns its 
baptismal name of Deism. Every form of here- 
tical opinion claims to have extracted some prin- 
ciple from the Gospel, its purest and best princi- 
ple, and made it its own vital element. Dame 
Morality borrows some of the most spiritual 
phrases of Christianity for its crutches. Philan- 
thropy makes scorn of piety. The world's lite- 
rature, professing the utmost purity of sentiment, 
insinuates the venom of unregenerate nature into 
the church; and, what is worse, the church's 
literature borrows the world's enticing forms, to 
make the truth as it is in Jesus more romantic 
and winning, and sequesters the Bible from the 
parlour, and hides it in the closet or the sick 
chamber. Expediency often supplants the sim- 
plicity of religious principle, and Christians are 
too apt to consider Avhat will iell^ rather than what 
is right and true. Even in the preaching of the 
Gospel, the most august of human responsibih- 
ties, looking beyond all other responsibilities, to 
the remotest issues, and the most solemn criticism 
of the judgment, the requirement seems often to 
be, not what the people need, but what they will 
like ; not. Is it the truth of the living God ? but. 
Is it the general sentiment of the congregation? 
In such a state of things, it is not surprising 


that Christians and worldKngs should mingle and 
be confounded together. It is not strange that 
the halls of dissipation should echo with the 
frivolous voices of nominal Christians, and that 
religion should lose its manliness in the world; 
and on the other hand, it is not strange that the 
votaries of fashion and mammon should come, 
with theii^ spirits reeking with the odour of world- 
liness, to the very altar of the Redeemer, as if 
their pollution could be so sanctified, and their 
worldly mindedness buy there an indulgence. 

When an earnest-minded Christian beholds 
this view, he may well be smitten with a pre- 
monitory fear, what shall be the end of these 
things. Lord God, why is this? JSTow, if there 
were no other answer, there is this, discouraging 
as it may seem: "If thou hast run with the 
footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how 
wilt thou contend with horses? and if in the 
land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wea- 
ried thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling 
of Jordan." It is as if God should say. You 
have not seen the worst, and if you are so dis- 
heartened at these early signs of defection, what 
will you do when the church is almost blotted 

The Scriptures instruct us to look for a period, 
before the coming of Christ, when there shall be 

27 * 


a great falling away from the faith and purity of 
the Gospel. The mixing of the church with the 
world, will easily prepare it for an open apostasy. 
Whether this will come from the gradual extinc- 
tion of piety in the church, till men shall wonder 
why they were baptized, and for consistency's 
sake will renounce a title to which they feel they 
have no claim ; or whether martyr fires shall burn 
again, and dungeon tortures shall try men's faith, 
so that the church, effeminate and enervated, 
shall shrink from the trial, and curse the Naza- 
rene rather than die for him — this we are not 
told. If history shall ever develope such an 
issue, is it too much to say that its elements are 
to be detected in the present state of the church? 
May not the adoption of the world by the church 
be the foul presage of its corruption ? And may 
not the very energy and activity of the church, 
in what may be called the hisincss of religion, be 
only one form of that power of will, which, un- 
less it be tamed and softened by secret medita- 
tion on the infinite and searching communion 
with the God of our spirits, will degenerate into 
a mere self-will, the other name for pride, rebel- 
lion, and godlessness? 

Be this as it may. Christian, 3^our faith is not 
to stand in the signs of the times, but in the 
power of God. Feeble is the piety that cannot 


survive unpopularity. Childish and cowardly is 
the spirit that must be reinforced by daily tri- 
umphs of the cross. The iniquity of the Amo- 
rites is not yet full, said the Lord. Depravity 
has not yet developed its utmost capacity. 
Christ's victory is not yet ^practically achieved. 
His glory will not be full until the possible forms 
of wickedness shall be matured, and all the evil 
that can be shall stand up in embattled self-will. 
Then shall He, whose eyes are hke fire, and his 
feet like fine brass, come forth and destroy them 
with the brightness of his coming, and let them 
know that verily there is a God that judgeth 
the earth. 

Meanwhile, he sits above in the calm suffi- 
ciency of omnipotence, and though the nations 
rage, and iniquity come in like a flood, he holds 
the reins of the times, and drives back the surg- 
ing wickednesss, till its period is full. He can 
bear to see the corruption of his church. He 
looks forward along the line of that begun world- 
liness, which leads to the dreadful permitted 
apostasy, and to that terrible vindication which 
shall crown the faithful few with glory, and drive 
back his enemies with the blast of his mouth. 
Meanwhile, he can afford to wait; and, Christian, 
so should you. In your patience possess jout 
soul. If in these minor iniquities of the times, 


they weary thee ; if in the land of comparative 
peace and quiet, and a popular Christianityj they 
weary thee ; then look forward to the swelling 
of Jordan, and your faith will be driven to rest, 
where it ought, in the simple word of the living 
God; the best faith for all times, the only faith 
that can make you endure to the end, and bring 
you to a crown of life. 

Secondly, We may consider our text as it is 
applicable again to the private trials of life. '' If 
thou hast run with the footmen, and they have 
wearied thee, then how wilt thou contend with 
horses? and if, in the land of peace, wherein 
thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt 
thou do in the swelling of Jordan ?" It is thus 
an admonition to fortitude in meeting the com- 
mon ills that flesh is heir to. 

Although no lot is without its own distinctive 
troubles, and no state of society is free from its 
peculiar embarrassments, yet these are borne 
with very various degrees of patience. So emi- 
nently true is the Scripture declaration, that man 
is born to trouble, that if his condition produces 
no troubles, his very nature and disposition will. 
In the necessities of poverty, the hardness of an 
emigrant life, and the general inferiority of an 
uncivilized state, we, of this century, think we 
can see reason for constant complaint. We shrink 


from such an inclement life, a life of total hard- 
ship, in which the commonest conveniences are 
supplied only loy substitute and shifts; and des- 
titution, in its baldest shape, meets the adventurer, 
morning, midday, and night. Refinement and 
luxury bring all their gratifications for sense and 
soul, and empty into our laps the cornucopia of 
civilized enjoyment, till it would be quite diffi- 
cult to say what higher grade there is for society 
to reach. And 3^et, in the inward life of men, 
in these different states of society, there may not 
be so much difference as appears. For, on the 
one hand, God, who tempers life to its various 
livers, has made hardship the natural mother of 
hardness. The very energy of emigration and 
adventure is exhilaration like that of joy; labour 
has its crown in achievement, and the bared 
nerves of life accommodate themselves with an 
additional coat of callousness, that defies the 
hardness of such a condition. Hope, that first 
attracted the enterprise, still fascinates the ad- 
venturer. Hope is his meat, and his jiillow, and 
his shelter, making his night and day happy. 

We, to whom, in the softness and refinement 
of life, such a lot would be a daily cruelty, have 
scarcely a single trial like his. Yet trouble is so 
legitimately human, that w^e borrow it, if it does 
not come. No palace door shuts out the inevita- 


ble ills of reality, or of fancy. No cushioned 
luxury satiates desire, till it says, "I want no 
more." A zephyr will be a hardship to a life 
that has no hurricanes, and his spirit will quail to 
mere vexations, who might, under other circum- 
stances, be strong enough to cope with solid, 
massive, manly trials. Thus it is that little 
griefs corrode us, when there are no great ones 
to buffet us; and we are wearied with running 
with footmen, overcome by troubles that spring 
out of ourselves, and our commonest life. How 
then shall we contend with horses, the real, 
grave, earnest trials, that come from a higher 
source, and put all our manhood to the test ? If, 
in this land of peace, wherein you trust, they 
have wearied you, what will you do in the actual 
swelling forth of Jordan ? It is a question worth 
considering. For life will be untrue to itself, if 
it do not bring to each one of us a measure of 
real sorrow, which it will require more, perhaps, 
than manly strength to meet. 

Refinement, wealth, taste, and cultivated sen- 
timent, confer no immunity from the dispensa- 
tions of Almighty God. Domestic woes will 
supplant your domestic vexations, and mercantile 
disaster may put to shame your petulance at little 
mercantile inconveniences, and serious pains 
make you forget your fancied ailments; and 


above all, the solemn necessities of your soul 
shall merge all remembrance of the artificial 
wants that now make your life's troubles. Yes, 
there will come a time when your heart, if you 
have one, will be torn with its bereaved love. 
That darkened chamber, where you watch by 
the bed of the dying, will be an apt picture of 
your darkened life, losing the light of your heart, 
and you will not know w^here to find consola- 

And that dying chamber will be, too, your 
own dying place; and, next to the grief for 
friends already lost, will be the grief that you 
are now going to leave the rest behind. Amid 
the faintness and irritabihty of your last sick- 
ness, your former troubles will seem how mean, 
and your vexation how unreasonable and shame- 

If you would think of these coming things 
now, how would it muffle your tongue against 
complaint, and subdue your feelings to bear the 
insignificant trials of your lot ! What are these 
passing inconveniences to the solemn woe of that 
burial service, in which you must stand by the 
open grave, and see your dead husband, or wife, 
or child, or parent, laid out of your sight for- 
ever? What are these anxieties to that heart- 
absorption, with which you will watch for his 


last breath — to that loneliness, with which you 
shall pace his desolated chamber, and your un- 
conscious lips, speaking for your longing heart, 
shall call his name, and get no answer? This is 
a grief that must come. Every day brings it 
nearer the swelling of Jordan, when your heart 
shall be overwhelmed. What will you do then? 

My hearers, you can easily see, by this ex- 
ample, how all your common troubles lose their 
weight by the side of this. If 3^ou would thus 
accustom yourselves to look to the sorrows that 
are real, you would have none that are factitious 
and fanciful; to those that are inevitable, you 
would avoid all the rest. 

But you may reply, "What comfort is there 
in contemplating greater woes, in order to neu- 
tralize the lesser? I should but increase the 
amount of my present wretchedness by anticipat- 
ing the future." And this would be true, if 3^ou 
took only an unsatisfied and selfish view of them. 
But my hope would be, that the thought of such 
trials coming inevitably upon you, would pro- 
duce the good effect of the trials themselves. 
It would lead you to resort for help and strength 
to Him who is the all-sufficient Helper. You 
might be led to cast your burden upon the Lord. 
You might go upon your bended knees, and im- 
plore the grace without which sorrow will either 


crush or harden your heart. Nay, there would 
be more hkelihood of succeedmg in your prayer, 
than if you waited for the woe. For while you 
would feel your need of Divine sustaining grace, 
that feeling would have less of selfish distraction 
than if the sorrow were already crushing 3^ou. 
While the woe was yet distant, you would not 
be unmanned by fear; yet, at the same time, be- 
cause it was inevitable, you would be impelled 
to a refuge in the bosom of God. Would to God 
that you, who are in the very central part of the 
land of peace and privilege, and yet find trials 
that chafe your spirits and mar your lot, would 
look forward to the swelling of Jordan, when 
sorrow's deluge shall flow over you ! Then, if 
you have no interest in the redeeming grace of 
Jesus Christ, you will feel a Avant that has no 
mitigation. You will long for a relief that can 
be found only truly in the grace of a child of 
God. A false and fatal relief you may find in a 
hard heart. But seek that grace now, and it Avill 
enable you not only to triufiiph over your real 
griefs, but to despise your fictitious ones. That 
which will make your sorrows light, will make 
your vexations null. 

Thirdly, But let us pass to consider another 
application of our text, to a different class of 


troubles ; in reference to which, we may still say, 
"If thou hast run with the footmen, and they 
have wearied thee, then how wilt thou contend 
with horses ? and if in the land of peace, wherein 
thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt 
thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" 

I refer now to the troubles that haunt the 
soul of an unconverted man. God has placed 
in every man's heart a great prophetic witness, 
to tell him of his sins, to pronounce upon his 
character, and foretell the great judgment. Con- 
science is God's viceroy over the realm of human 
spirit. Man may dethrone it by excessive guilt, 
and violate and dishonour it in ten thousand 
ways. But conscience was born to a throne in 
the human bosom, and a throne it will have, if 
not in this life, then in the next; in this life for 
his salvation, or, if not, then in the next, for his 
deathless torment. When conscience speaks, its 
voice is always kingly. Even though you chain 
it, you tremble at the majesty of its expostula- 
tion. It is God's eye. It sees your life, and 
reads your heart. It is God's voice, counselling 
your understanding. It is God's power, chastis- 
ing your guilt with stings. Every sin you com- 
mit, open or secret, yea, every thought of sin, 
calls forth its indignant reprimand. You carry 


it with you, my hearer, unless, indeed, I chance 
to speak to one rarely found in God's house, a 
reprobate. You carry it within you, and you 
are made to know it is within you, by most un- 
mistakeable signs. Go where you will, you have 
this inseparable companion and admonisher of 
yom^ spirit, pointing always to the forsaken road 
of duty. In the church, conscience barbs the 
point of God's truth, and fastens it in your heart. 
And even if you sleep upon the Divine message, 
conscience flies in your face when you awake. 
If you causelessly abstain from the services of 
God's house, conscience pricks you till you writhe. 
When you neglect your closet and its prayers, 
conscience complains through all the chambers 
of your graceless heart. Nay, my unconverted 
friend, I speak to your inmost experience, when 
I say, that in all your life of ahenation from God, 
you carry this clog to your enjoyment — that 
yours is a life of sin. 

You would be happy if you could not remem- 
ber that you were guilty; but remembering this, 
oh ! what a mockery of happiness is a life like 
yours. Eich you may be, in this life, but pov- 
erty-stricken for eternity; honoured in men's 
estimation, but miserably vile in His, who is no 
respecter of persons; wise in human lore, ruin- 


ously blind in Divine things; just in your deal- 
ings with men, but defrauding the God who made 
you; free from all worldly stain, but guilty of 
the blood of your own soul. You feel it so often 
as you reflect. Your life's worst troubler is your 
Divine conscience. Your pang of pangs is your 
self-inflicted wound. Here is a trouble born of 
you and in you. You have raced with it, and 
you are distanced. In the self-complacency of 
your unconverted pride, you have a sorrow that 
you cannot withstand. ^'In the land of peace, 
Avherein you trusted, you are wearied." 

And now, let me ask the searching ques- 
tion of the text, "How will you contend with 
horses?" "What will you do in the swelhng of 

For there is coming a time when these pun- 
gent pains of your soul will seem like the 
brushing of an insect's wing, compared with the 
searchings of heart that you must then endure. 
The time is coming when your soul shall be laid 
bare to the eye of the whole world. Its charac- 
ter will be read aloud by Him wdio gave your 
conscience a part of His own power. He will 
expose your open and your secret sins, with all 
their aggravation, and bring your whole life to the 
dreadful ordeal of the Judgment. What wilt 


thou say when Pie shall punish thee ? In that 
ceasing of forbearance, and the swelling forth of 
justice and judgment, what wilt thou do ? When 
the time for praj^er is ended and gone, and the 
Holy Spirit of conversion has returned to God's 
bosom, never to visit you again, and the day of 
grace has had its night-fall, and retribution glooms 
before you through a starless eternity; when the 
w^rath of the Lamb has taken the judgment seat, 
and the love of the Lamb turns away from you 
to the saved ; oh ! you who sometimes blush even 
in your privacy, to think of 3^our guilty ingrati- 
tude to your Saviour, how can your hearts be 
strong then? How can you contend with your 
God? You cannot contend, for we know who 
will then call upon the rocks and hills to fall 
upon them, and shield them from His piercing 
eye, whose one look is a pang that never dies, 
and the waving of whose hand is the token of 
endless despair. 

my beloved friends, heed the admonishing 
pains of conscience now ! You are wearied with 
them, I know, because you cannot deny their 
justice. As you love your own souls, and as 
you would fear to carry an unforgiven heart to 
your death-bed, and to the judgment, I beseech 
you to heal your present woe by providing for 


the more terrible future. Assuage your con- 
science by saving your soul. To the cross, my 
dear friend, to the cross of your injured Saviour, 
and the blood that your sins drew forth from his 
wounds, shall be your peace in the swelhng of 




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